The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts, Paperback

The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (9 ratings)


In the past three decades, archaeologists have made great strides in recovering the lost world of the Old Testament.

Dozens of digs in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon have changed experts' understanding of ancient Israel and its neighbours- as well as their vision of the Bible's greatest tales.

Yet until now, the public has remained almost entirely unaware of these discoveries which help separate legend from historical truth.

Here, at last, two of archaeology's leading scholars shed new light on how the Bible came into existence.

They assert, for example, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never existed, that David and Solomon were not great kings but obscure chieftains and that the Exodus never happened.

They offer instead a new historical truth: the Bible was created by the people of the small, southern nation of Judah in a heroic last-ditch attempt to keep their faith alive after the demise of the larger, wealthier nation of Israel to the north.

It is in this truth, not in the myths of the past, that the real value of the Bible is evident.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages, 16 b&w photograohs, maps, line drawings
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biblical archaeology
  • ISBN: 9780684869131



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Showing 1 - 5 of 9 reviews.

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Review by

Non-fiction about the arhaeology of the bible. Amazing compilation of recent discoveries and excavations in middle east.

Review by

The subject matter of this book is fascinating: modern archaeological finds, and how they support / don't support stories in the Bible. The treatment is too scholarly - in the hands of a different set of writers, I really think this could be a real eye-opener. Instead, it's dense and extremely hard to digest. It also really should have included pictures to bring the finds to life.

Review by

I found this book less radical than I expected from reading some of the debate about it. It does deny the historicity of Abrham and of Joshua's conquest of Canaan, but it accepts the House of DWD inscription proves the historicity of David. Conservative scholarscan find legitimate grounds to criticize it , but it is a more moderate and credible state,ent of a liberal position than I anticipated, though I do not entirely accept it.

Review by

This book's thesis is that the Old Testament, though shaped by true events and traditions, was constructed in its current form as a common bond and political instrument in support of the short-lived resurgence of the kingdom Judiah and the subsequent Yahedic society that appeared after its collapse in the 7th century b.c. More hopeful archaeology from the previous 30 years was driven significantly by those who accepted the historic date range of 2100-2500 B.C. as fact and looked for supporting evidence. The authors use archaelogic evidence to refute this and form a different theory. Some of their supporting evidence is very basic. For example, while the progenitors were camel traders, camels were not found in the region until 1000 years later. It also shows how some of the oldest stories both explained the various peoples in the region and established the superiority of the Israelites (e.g. Lot's daughters as the roots to Moam and Ammon; Jacob and Esau establishing the legitimization of Israel as having bestowed the birthright). The Exodus story is explained as an explanation of how the people reached their current lands, but the actual events are judged as not fitting against the time, Egyptian span of control, or place names. The authors later argue that the Exodue story's numerous parallels to the later resurgence of Egypt demonstrate that it was the basis for people seeing what they should and can do at present. The authors also show where archaelogy supports what we do know. For example, the highlands settlements thought to have been Isaelite indeed are the only in the are lacking pig bones. David and Solomon are portrayed as tribal chieftains sans the great empires and wealth but still of note. A slab from c. 853 mentions the destruction of the "House of David" Perhaps most notably in support of the political argument, Josiah, who lived in the current era, was prophesied by name as being someone to be followed. The archaeology aside, this book provides a great political history of the relationships between the northern Israelite and southern highland Judahite peoples -- their differences, Israel's rise and fall, and Judah's fortunate timing to emerge as Israel's Assyrian conquerers fell. Judah was less developed and attracted less attention. Following it's emergence, kings were deemed good or bad based on their enforcement of strict laws, particularly around a monotheistic, YWHE-est worship. With the strong and continuous saga of historical reminders, one can see how Israel today maintains such unity and success. As for the history of the texts, the authors show that how references to the "Book of the Law" were later modified by new found scripts and formed into Deutoronomy, and then later a final redaction was made (perhaps by Ezra). The final text has elements of Greek epic, Assyrian vassal contract, and Egyptian style. It also coincided with the first spread of literacy.

Review by

This is a fascinating non-scholarly overview of the current state of biblical archaeology. The author's main issue revolves around when the Deuteronomistic books (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings 1 and 2) were written. They show these narratives, describing the early history of the Hebrews, were written centuries later than traditional beliefs, during the reign of Judahian King Josiah, who initiated a reform movement just before the Babylonian invasion. Because of this, the reliability of the Hebrew Bible (as a historical document) is brought into question especially in light of current archeological evidence. Finkelstein and Siberman pick apart some key portions of the Hebrew narrative including the Patriarchs, the Exodus story, the conquest of Canaan, the unified kingdom of David and Solomon and more.

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