‘The Bible Unearthed’
Posted: 13 April 2008 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Scanning down the column of subjects discussed here I see this book and it’s authors mentioned several times. I have not yet read this book but am planning to eventually, however I have noticed that most ‘nontheistic’ types seem to take Israel Finkelseins archeaelogical work as unchallenged fact nowadays. Even Michael Shermer has given oratories saying so as well. From what I have unearthed myself, Finkelstein and Silbermans work is considered pretty radical in the world of Biblical Archaeology. I pulled this from WIKI-

[edit] Controversies
Finklestein is a well known archaeologist worldwide and has been described as being a “lightning rod” for controversy. Some critics see in his writings’ unconventional interpretations regarding biblical history and timelines, especially in regards to when books of the Bible may have been authored and the extent of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon[1][2]. Finkelstein has explicitely rejected the ultra-minimalist position that places the composition of the Bible in the Persian or Greek period, i.e., after the return from the Babylonian exile, however, his description of tenth century Jerusalem, the period associated with the Biblical Kings David and Solomon, as a mere “village” or tribal center is rejected by most biblical scholars and archaeologists working in the region.[3] The professor has said in regards to the discussions that “New archaeological discoveries should not erode one’s sense of tradition and identity”. [1]


[edit] Collaborations
Together with Yuval Goren and Nadav Na’aman, Finkelstein has coordinated the mineralogical and chemical analysis of the Amarna tablets. He also co-authored, with Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. “Most” of Finkelstein’s “peers in archaeology and biblical studies strongly rejected its conclusions.”[4]

Now, having put Israel Finkelstein and his book The Bible Unearthed in proper context, should we all as ‘Skeptics’ indeed be yet skeptical about anything on the ‘fringe’ so to speak? This subject does not seem to be as clear cut as biological evolutionary theory, for example.

What say you my friends?

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Posted: 14 April 2008 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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McCreason - 13 April 2008 11:39 AM

Scanning down the column of subjects discussed here I see this book and it’s authors mentioned several times. I have not yet read this book but am planning to eventually, however I have noticed that most ‘nontheistic’ types seem to take Israel Finkelseins archeaelogical work as unchallenged fact nowadays. Even Michael Shermer has given oratories saying so as well. From what I have unearthed myself, Finkelstein and Silbermans work is considered pretty radical in the world of Biblical Archaeology. I pulled this from WIKI-

[edit] Controversies
Finklestein is a well known archaeologist worldwide and has been described as being a “lightning rod” for controversy. Some critics see in his writings’ unconventional interpretations regarding biblical history and timelines, especially in regards to when books of the Bible may have been authored and the extent of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon[1][2]. Finkelstein has explicitely rejected the ultra-minimalist position that places the composition of the Bible in the Persian or Greek period, i.e., after the return from the Babylonian exile, however, his description of tenth century Jerusalem, the period associated with the Biblical Kings David and Solomon, as a mere “village” or tribal center is rejected by most biblical scholars and archaeologists working in the region.[3] The professor has said in regards to the discussions that “New archaeological discoveries should not erode one’s sense of tradition and identity”. [1]


[edit] Collaborations
Together with Yuval Goren and Nadav Na’aman, Finkelstein has coordinated the mineralogical and chemical analysis of the Amarna tablets. He also co-authored, with Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. “Most” of Finkelstein’s “peers in archaeology and biblical studies strongly rejected its conclusions.”[4]

Now, having put Israel Finkelstein and his book The Bible Unearthed in proper context, should we all as ‘Skeptics’ indeed be yet skeptical about anything on the ‘fringe’ so to speak? This subject does not seem to be as clear cut as biological evolutionary theory, for example.

What say you my friends?

(Andrew):  It’s true that we don’t know what the next spadeful of earth will uncover, but Finkelstein and Silberman are more credentialed than your bio reveals and have some support.  Though not the minimalist that either of them are, Wm Dever has come (independantly) to many of the same conclusions, particularly with respect to the ancient Israelites having been indiginous to Palestine. 
Inertia may explain some of the reluctance of mainstream archaeology to consider Finkelstein and Silberman as anything more than “fringe”.  Much of biblical archaeology has been conducted and interpreted through the lense of the assumption that the Biblical record is accurate, and it’s difficult to give up long held prejudices.
It’s similar to the problems faced by those who question Jesus’ existence—the “mythers”:  That Jesus was a figure in history has been a given for so long, the suggestion that he may never have existed at all causes some scholars to shut their eyes to the evidence.  Or, more accurately, to the lack of evindence.

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Posted: 14 April 2008 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Andrew. Do you know of James Hoffemeir? He is a biblical scholar and archaeologist who apparently has excavated some of the same sites as Finkelstein and came up with opposite conclusions based on his version of the ‘evidence’ Hoffy has written several books about his finds. Of course confirmation bias is at play here more than likely, being as that Hoffemeier appears to be a believer first and a scientist second but….the carbon dating is apparently not that clear cut. Also the May 06 issue of Smithsonian magazine has an article about Finklestein and his findings and those that dispute them.

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Posted: 15 April 2008 02:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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McCreason - 14 April 2008 04:50 PM

Andrew. Do you know of James Hoffemeir? He is a biblical scholar and archaeologist who apparently has excavated some of the same sites as Finkelstein and came up with opposite conclusions based on his version of the ‘evidence’ Hoffy has written several books about his finds. Of course confirmation bias is at play here more than likely, being as that Hoffemeier appears to be a believer first and a scientist second but….the carbon dating is apparently not that clear cut. Also the May 06 issue of Smithsonian magazine has an article about Finklestein and his findings and those that dispute them.

(Andrew):  Thanks for the heads-up.  I haven’t heard of Hoffemeir, but will check him out.  And I’ll find a copy of May’s Smithsonian (I used to have a subscription, but let it go).
I do subscribe to Biblical Archaeological Review, though…and it’s pretty non-minimalist, to say the least…so I’m getting a little from both sides.

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Posted: 20 June 2008 09:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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McCreason - 14 April 2008 04:50 PM

Andrew. Do you know of James Hoffemeir? He is a biblical scholar and archaeologist who apparently has excavated some of the same sites as Finkelstein and came up with opposite conclusions based on his version of the ‘evidence’ Hoffy has written several books about his finds. Of course confirmation bias is at play here more than likely, being as that Hoffemeier appears to be a believer first and a scientist second but….the carbon dating is apparently not that clear cut. Also the May 06 issue of Smithsonian magazine has an article about Finklestein and his findings and those that dispute them.

It is actually spelled Hoffmeier. He is a professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology. If you read his works Hoffmeier acknowledges that there is no archaeological or historical evidence for the claims made in the Torah. His arguments are based on the logic that although there is no evidence there is nothing that particularly indicates these things could not have happened. That is an approach that is fatally flawed. There is really no reason that Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, or Elizabeth Bennet could not have existed other than the fact they were constructed as fictional entities. The same is true of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the fictional history in the Torah. The Torah is a fiction in the same vein as Greek mythology. It is high time that the Torah and all the falsehoods that arose therefrom be relegated to the same stack of fiction.

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Posted: 21 June 2008 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Sarah, although I have not read Hoffmeier’s work, I assumed it to be flawed as you mentioned. Here is a review by a very dissapointed reader of his book ‘Israel in Egypt’-


A big dissapointment
Burrowing Owl, A reviewer, 03/24/2008

I had hoped this book would finally provide some evidence for the belief that the ancient Hebrews were enslaved by Egypt and/or existed as a group in Egypt for any appreciable amount of time—- as the book ‘Exodus’ in the Hebrew Testament claims. Sadly, this book failed to make a convincing argument for that claim. First off, the synopsis for this book reads ‘Scholars of the Hebrew Bible have in the last decade begun to question the historical accuracy of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus.’ That is not quite accurate: historians, Egyptologists, and Bible scholars have been critical of the claim that the Hebrews were enslaved by Egypt for over 100 years, not merely a ‘decade.’ See for example Robert Green Ingersoll’s text ‘Some Mistakes of Moses.’ This book contends that the Hebrews really were enslaved by Egypt, but that fact has either been ‘lost’ to historians or has been ‘hidden’ from historians…. and that one must infer the existence of the ancient Hebrews in Egypt. There are a nearly infinite number of flaws with that contention. The first is, if the Hebrew Testament had not mentioned the alleged Hebrew enslavement in Egypt, nobody would ever think it had happened based upon evidence: the belief must come first, and then proponents of the claim strive mightily to find any and all possible ‘just so stories’ to defend that believe…. no matter how absurd and tenuous. That is what the author of this book has done. It is entirely possible that the book of ‘Exodus’ in the Hebrew Testament is factual and that the ancient Hebrews really were enslaved by Egypt: however, this book offers nothing in the way of evidence that will convince a historian or an Egyptologist.
From the Publisher
Scholars of the Hebrew Bible have in the last decade begun to question the historical accuracy of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus. The reason for the rejection of the exodus tradition is said to be the lack of historical and archaeological evidence in Egypt.
Those advancing these claims, however, are not specialists in the study of Egyptian history, culture, and archaeology. In this pioneering book, James Hoffmeier examines the most current Egyptological evidence and argues that it supports the biblical record concerning Israel in Egypt.


I assume would would agree with this opinion?

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Posted: 22 June 2008 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I definitely agree with that opinion. Writings that attempt to resuscitate the Old Testament as a historical document tend to reflect the futility of that activity. Hoffmeier is an excellent case in point. Well intentioned perhaps but he definitely misses the mark.

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“The [Torah] is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief-call it what you will-than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.”

A. A. Milne

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