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

Author: Israel Finkelstein, Neil Asher Silberman
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by MalcontentMike   2019-07-21

This book is a good read because it covers most of the Bible up until the Exile to Babylon.

by MalcontentMike   2019-07-21

We have massive amounts of evidence which contradicts the Bible's story. It's not just absence of evidence.

You should read this book. It gives the consensus archaeological view of the history of the early Bible. It's not quite up to date, but still very good.

by Talmor   2019-07-21

Big fan The Bible Unearthed for a great understanding of the development of the Hebrew Bible from a historical and archaeological perspective.

by SayItLikeItIs   2017-08-19

This is the classic study (see especially Figure 2), but you'll find several others in this thread.

If you're interested in this kind of stuff, you might want to check into the origins of the Jews. Here are some highlights (with sources) copypasta'd from one of my comments several months ago:

Finkelstein and Silberman : "These [new archaeological] surveys revolutionized the study of early Israel. The discovery of the remains of a dense network of highland villages — all apparently established within the span of few generations — indicated that a dramatic social transformation had taken place in the central hill country of Canaan around 1200 BCE. There was no sign of violent invasion or even the infiltration of a clearly defined ethnic group. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. In the formerly sparsely populated highlands from the Judean hills in the south to the hills of Samaria in the north, far from the Canaanite cities that were in the process of collapse and disintegration, about two-hundred fifty hilltop communities suddenly sprang up. Here were the first Israelites." (p. 107)

Apparently one of the indicators of the emergence of this new culture in the highlands was the lack of pork remains in the highlands, whereas there were a lot of pork remains in archaeological sites in other area: "Facing the “enemy” or “other” (i.e., the Philistines) who came from the southern coastal plain (and originally from the Aegean world), the highland settlers reinforced a “contrasting” identity that stressed components that were very different from those of the Philistines. Since the latter consumed pork,the Israelites made the avoidance of pork into a“flag” that was used to show how different they were."

Then there's the Egytian stele, which Wikipedia describes thus: "The name Israel first appears in the stele of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, "Israel is laid waste and his seed is no more." This "Israel" was a cultural and probably political entity of the central highlands, well enough established to be perceived by the Egyptians as a possible challenge to their hegemony, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state."

by extispicy   2017-08-19

I agree with you that it is sometimes difficult to wade through the devotional (and mythicist!) to find proper historical materials!

My absolute favorite beginner resource are these Yale Religious Studies courses, the Old Testament series in particular. The professor has done an amazing job of putting the Bible in its historical context. Grab a Bible and do the assigned readings as "homework" - she does let you skip the boring bits, I promise!

My favorite text is this How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now , which compares how modern believers interpret the Bible compared to how it would have been received by its original audience.

If you are particularly interested in archaeology, 'The Bible Unearthed' might be a good option, though I think it does presume a fair amount of familiarity with biblical history.

Here's a list of more online resources, though they are not so much for the beginner.

If there is a particular topic you are interested in, I can try to point you towards something more specific.