Biblical Archaeology Review 27:2, March/April 2001


The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman (New York: Free Press, 2000) 304 pp., $26.00 (hardback)

The Bible Unearthed makes two bold claims: that the core historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible—the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History (Deuteronomy through Kings)—was composed only at the very end of the Judean monarchy, mostly during the internal crises and attempted reforms of King Josiah in the late seventh century B.C.; and that the result is more theological propaganda than an accurate account of ancient Israel’s history in the Iron Age (starting in about 1200 B.C.), not to mention the Bronze Age (second millennium B.C.). According to authors Israel Finkelstein (codirector of the Megiddo excavation) and archaeological journalist Neil Asher Silberman, nearly all histories of ancient Israel, even the most modern, have been little more than paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible that perpetuate an invented Israel.

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