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The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein

The Bible Unearthed (2001)

by Israel Finkelstein, Isy Morgensztern, Neil Asher Silberman (Author)

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English (17)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (19)
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Much of the archeological speculation is out of date (published 2001), having been superseded by new discoveries that fill in the lacunae that the authors attempt to patch with speculation and imagination.
Since their over-arching purpose appears to be denial that David and Solomon had anything to do with the artifacts of the "real" empire of northern Israel during the Omride dynasty, they consistently dismiss anything that doesn't match their preconceived ideas of what the unified monarchy MUST have been like.

The book has bibliographies for each chapter, but no footnotes or direct citations that allow a reader to actually follow the scholarly arguments or evidences.

Maps and tables are only moderately useful. There is no listing of figures, maps, and tables in the Contents, and they are seldom directly referenced in the text, sometime appearing after all of the narrative they pertain to is concluded, thus requiring readers to page back or forward several chapters to find them. ( )
  librisissimo | Apr 1, 2019 |
Les Nouvelles révélations de l'archéologie
  guyotvillois | Oct 15, 2018 |
The Bible, in the books of Samuel and Kings, tells the story of a Jewish kingdom that was created around 1,000 BC with the anointment of King David. The kingdom prospered with David and his son Solomon, but after the death of Solomon, the fortunes of the Davidic empire turned sour. The kingdom was split in two: The northern half of the kingdom became Israel, while the southern half became Judah.

In the years that followed, Israel became the more powerful kingdom, but then around 700 BC, the Assyrian empire overran Israel, and carried away the inhabitants, and created the story of the 10 lost tribes.

The southern kingdom of Judah survived a bit longer, and enjoyed an era of prosperity around 600 BC.

This book examines the recent archaeological work that has been completed in the Holy Land, and concludes that the archaeological evidence does not match the Old Testament story. What the archaeological evidence says is that at the time when David would have been king, Jerusalem was a small insignificant village. In fact, the entire area of Judah was sparsely populated, and there is no evidence of a central administration, writing or professional soldiers.

The authors conclude that there never was a united monarchy of David or Solomon. While David and Solomon may have existed, they never governed a mighty nation. There stories are about as real as the stories of King Arthur. “There is good reason to suggest that there were always two distinct highland entities, of which the southern was always the poorer, weaker, and more rural, and less influential—until it rose to sudden spectacular prominence after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel.”

The authors conclude that the Old Testament was written from scratch during the reign of kind Josiah, around 620 BC. It is the skillful weaving of different tribal legends intended to unite the Hebrew people living in Judah and the old northern country of Israel.

“To the people of Judah at the time when the biblical epic was first crafted, a new David had come to the throne, intent on resorting the glory of his distant ancestors. This was Josiah, described as the most devoted of all Judahite kings. And Josiah was able to roll history back from his own days to the time of the legendary united monarchy. By cleaning Judah of the abomination of idolatry—first introduced into Jerusalem by Solomon with his harem of foreign wives (1 Kings 11:1-8)—Josiah could nullify the transgressions that led to the breakdown of the Davidic ‘empire.’ What the Deuteronomistic historian wanted to say is simple and powerful: there is still a way to regain the glory of the past.

“So Josiah embarked on establishing a united monarchy that would link Judah with the territories of the former northern kingdom through the royal institutions, military forces, and single-minded devotion to Jerusalem that are so central to the biblical narrative of David. As the monarch sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem, Josiah was the only legitimate heir to the Davidic empire, that is, to the Davidic territories. He was about to ‘regain’ the territories of the now destroyed northern kingdom, the kingdom that was born from the sins of Solomon. And the words of 1 Kings 4-25, that ‘Judah and Israel dwelt in safety from Dan even to Beersheba,’ summarize those hopes of territorial expansion and quest for peaceful, prosperous times, similar to the mythical past, when a king ruled from Jerusalem over the territories of Judah and Israel combined. ( )
  ramon4 | Sep 15, 2016 |
The authors of The Bible Unearthed successfully collate new findings and information that has been known for awhile to present clear and concise rethinking of The Old Testament at the time of kings and Biblical archaeology in general. Once the confirmation bias of the Bible in one hand and a trowel in the other has been removed,and modern scientific techniques applied, the Old Testament can be set in the context of politics and nation building rather than a history in the traditional sense.

The authors themselves characterise the book as :
"our attempt to formulate a new archaeological vision of ancient Israel in which the Bible is one of the most important artifacts and cultural achievements [but] not the unquestioned narrative framework into which every archaeological find must be fit."

Well worth reading.

( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
A controversial Book, dedicated to the present stage of archaeological investigations in Israel. This book will probably not be on the reading lists at Oral Roberts University. The main theme is that there is little or no evidence of a great deal of the historical account of the origin of the Hebrew kingdom in Palestine, prior to Ahab, the Northern king in the 880's BCE. If the account in the historical books of the old testament is somewhat true, it must relate to events a great deal more modest in scope than the biblical account. Finkelstein and Silberman appear to have a lot of evidence for their reconstruction. A very careful book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Israel Finkelsteinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morgensztern, Isymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Neil Asher SilbermanAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The world in which the Bible was created was not a mythic realm of great cities and saintly heroes, but a tiny, down-to-earth kingdom where people struggled for their future against the all-too-human fears of war, poverty, injustice, disease, famine and drought.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684869136, Paperback)

The Bible Unearthed is a balanced, thoughtful, bold reconsideration of the historical period that produced the Hebrew Bible. The headline news in this book is easy to pick out: there is no evidence for the existence of Abraham, or any of the Patriarchs; ditto for Moses and the Exodus; and the same goes for the whole period of Judges and the united monarchy of David and Solomon. In fact, the authors argue that it is impossible to say much of anything about ancient Israel until the seventh century B.C., around the time of the reign of King Josiah. In that period, "the narrative of the Bible was uniquely suited to further the religious reform and territorial ambitions of Judah." Yet the authors deny that their arguments should be construed as compromising the Bible's power. Only in the 18th century--"when the Hebrew Bible began to be dissected and studied in isolation from its powerful function in community life"--did readers begin to view the Bible as a source of empirically verifiable history. For most of its life, the Bible has been what Finkelstein and Silberman reveal it once more to be: an eloquent expression of "the deeply rooted sense of shared origins, experiences, and destiny that every human community needs in order to survive," written in such a way as to encompass "the men, women, and children, the rich, the poor, and the destitute of an entire community." --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In The Bible Unearthed two leading scholars, an archaeologist and a historian, combine a tour of the field of biblical archaeology with a explanation of how and why the Bible's historical saga differs so dramatically from the archaeological finds. They explain what the Bible says about ancient Israel and show how it diverges sharply from archaeological reality. They then offer a new version of the history of ancient Israel, bringing archaeological evidence to bear on the question of when, where, and why the Bible was first written." "As to why the answers are so new, Finkelstein and Silberman draw on evidence from decades of archaeological work and dozens of digs in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, to explain that the key early books of the Bible were first codified in the seventh century B.C.E., hundreds of years after the core events of the lives of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, and the conquest of Canaan were said to have taken place."."Yet the ultimate message of The Bible Unearthed is not just a correction of the record. Instead, it is a unique and fascinating explanation of the origins of the Bible. The Bible's newly identified authors, threatened with political crisis and the intimidation of nearby empires, crafted a brilliant document, a set of stories and teachings that would eventually appeal to the faithful beyond the boundaries of any particular kingdom."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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