Is the Bible true? For the last hundred and fifty years a war has been waged over the historical reliability of the Hebrew scriptures. Recent dramatic discoveries of biblical archaeology have cast serious doubt on the familiar account of ancient Israel and the origins of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Though the Bible credits Abraham as the first human to realize there is only one God, we now know that there is no evidence for monotheism for many centuries after the reported time of Abraham. Nor is there any archaeological evidence for the Exodus, for Joshua's conquest of Canaan, or for the vast "united monarchy" of David and Solomon.
In "The Bible Unearthed" two leading scholars, an archaeologist and a historian, combine an exhilarating tour of the field of biblical archaeology with a fascinating 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 dramatic 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.
What do we know about the time of the ancient patriarchs? When did monotheism first arise? When and where did the first Israelites appear? How did the people of Israel first come to occupy the Promised Land? How extensive was David and Solomon's kingdom? When and why did Jerusalem become the capital of ancient Israel? All of these questions have new answers.
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 BCE, 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.
"The Bible Unearthed" will forever change how you think about the world's greatest book.