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The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman

0684869136 Retail Price: $14.00
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Format: Paperback, 400pp.
ISBN: 0684869136
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Pub. Date: June 2002

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From The Publisher:

In this iconoclastic and provocative work, leading scholars Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman draw on recent archaeological research to present a dramatically revised portrait of ancient Israel and its neighbors. They argue that crucial evidence (or a telling lack of evidence) at digs in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon suggests that many of the most famous stories in the Bible -- the wanderings of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua's conquest of Canaan, and David and Solomon's vast empire -- reflect the world of the later authors rather than actual historical facts.

Challenging the fundamentalist readings of the scriptures and marshaling the latest archaeological evidence to support its new vision of ancient Israel, The Bible Unearthed offers a fascinating and controversial perspective on when and why the Bible was written and why it possesses such great spiritual and emotional power today.


A brutally honest assessment of what archaeology can and cannot tell us about the historical accuracy of the Bible...presented with both authority and panache.
—Jonathan Kirsch Los Angeles Times

Finkelstein, director of Tel Aviv University's excavations at Megiddo (ancient Armageddon), and Silberman, author of a series of successful and intriguing books on the political and cultural dimensions of archeology, present for the first time to a general audience the results of recent research, which reveals more clearly that while the Bible may be the most important piece of Western literature--serving concrete political, cultural and religious purposes--many of the events recorded in the Old Testament are not historically accurate. Finkelstein and Silberman do not aim to undermine the Bible's import, but to demonstrate why it became the basic document for a distinct religious community under particular political circumstances. For example, they maintain that the Exodus was not a single dramatic event, as described in the second book of the Bible, but rather a series of occurrences over a long period of time. The Old Testament account is, according to the authors, neither historical truth nor literary fiction, but a powerful expression of memory and hope constructed to serve particular political purposes at the time it was composed. The authors claim quite convincingly that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah became radically different regions even before the time of King David; the northern lands were densely populated, with a booming agriculture-based economy, while the southern region was sparsely populated by migratory pastoral groups. Furthermore, they contend, "we still have no hard archaeological evidence--despite the unparalleled biblical description of its grandeur--that Jerusalem was anything more than a modest highland village in the time of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam." Fresh, stimulating and highly engaging, this book will hold greatest appeal for readers familiar with the Bible, in particular the Old Testament--unfortunately, a shrinking percentage of the population. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Carol Mann. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
—Publisher's Weekly


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About the Authors

Israel Finkelstein is director of the Sonia and Marco NAdler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. Neil Asher Silberman is director of historical interpretation for the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium and is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine.

Table of Contents

Searching for the Patriarchs
Did the Exodus Happen?
The Conquest of Canaan
Who Were the Israelites?
Memories of a Golden Age?
One State, One Nation, One People? (C. 930-720 BCE)
Israel's Forgotten First Kingdom (884-842 BCE)
In the Shadow of Empire (842-720 BCE)
The Transformation of Judah (C. 930-705 BCE)
Between War and Survival (705-639 BCE)
A Great Reformation (639-586 BCE)
Exile and Return (586-C. 440 BCE)
Epilogue: The Future of Biblical Israel
Appendix A: Theories of the Historicity of the Patriarchal Age
Appendix B: Searching for Sinai
Appendix C: Alternative Theories of the Israelite Conquest
Appendix D: Why the Traditional Archaeology of the Davidic and Solomonic Period Is Wrong
Appendix E: Identifying the Era of Manasseh in the Archaeological Record
Appendix F: How Vast Was the Kingdom of Josiah?
Appendix G: The Boundaries of the Province of Yehud

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