Biblical Archaeology Review 28:3, May/June 2002

First Person: Is the Bible a Bunch of Historical Hooey?

Harper’s Magazine would have us believe so

By Steven Feldman

“False Testament” blares the headline on the cover of the March issue of Harper’s Magazine. The subhead continues, “Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History.”

This is about as close to a screaming, supermarket tabloid headline as we are ever likely to get from the venerable Harper’s (the magazine began publishing a decade before Abraham Lincoln was first elected president).

In the article, the author, Daniel Lazare, tries to knock down several “pillars” of Biblical history. Was there an actual Abraham? “Not only is there no evidence that any such figure as Abraham ever lived,” writes Lazare, “but archaeologists believe there is no way such a figure could have lived given what we know about ancient Israelite origins.” The Exodus from Egypt? “It never occurred at all.” The Israelite conquest of Canaan? The Bible’s account of that “turns out to be fictional as well.” The United Kingdom under David and Solomon? Lazare counters, “David was not a mighty potentate whose power was felt from the Nile to the Euphrates but rather a freebooter who carved out what was at most a small duchy in the southern highlands around Jerusalem and Hebron.”

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