General conclusions from various readings.
Posted: 19 March 2008 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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The evidence is leaning in the direction of the first part of the Old Testament as myth. Everything up to the Battle of Jericho is devoid of archaeological support. It appears that the Israelites emerged from within the Canaanite society and perhaps from small groups from nearby regions. If King David existed he was a petty tribal chieftain as Jerusalem was merely a hamlet at the time of his supposed reign. By the time of King Josiah the Old Testament text aligns better with the archaeological record but there is a fair amount of exaggeration.

The following list contains a few of the many texts that address this topic. The list is in no particular order and contain texts that lean both toward the minimalist and maximalist sides of the debate. There are texts that take more extreme views in both directions but I question positions that are that far to one side or the other. 

The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel
by Israel Finkelstein, Amihai Mazar, & Brian B. Schmidt

The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel
by Thomas L. Thompson

The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives: The Quest for the Historical Abraham
by Thomas L. Thompson

Shifting Sands: The Rise and Fall of Biblical Archaeology
by Thomas W. Davis

Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?
by William G. Dever

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts
by Mark S. Smith

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

David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition
by Israel Finkelstein

The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel
by Mark S. Smith

Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?
by Lester L. Grabbe

It Ain’t Necessarily So
by Matthew Sturgis

Archaeology and the Bible
by John Laughlin

Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey
by Richard S. Hess

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible
by John H. Walton

The Bible with Sources Revealed
by Richard E. Friedman

How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now
by James L. Kugel

The Bible As It Was
by James L. Kugel

Where do you fall on this issue and can you provide sources to read along with your synopsis?

Cheers,
Cooper

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“Most of the Israelites did not come from outside Canaan - they emerged from within it. There was no mass Exodus from Egypt…no violent conquest of Canaan. The early Israelites were - irony of ironies - themselves originally Canaanites!

The conquest of Canaan by Joshua could not have happened [as] described in the Bible. Most of the towns…either weren’t inhabited, didn’t exist or were conquered at wildly different times.” —Finkelstein and Silberman

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