In the United States the biblical archaeology movement, under the influence of Albright, counter-attacked, arguing that the broad outline within the framing narratives was also true, so that while scholars could not realistically expect to prove or disprove individual episodes from the life of Abraham and the other patriarchs, these were real individuals who could be placed in a context proven from the archaeological record. But as more discoveries were made, and anticipated finds failed to materialise, it became apparent that archaeology did not in fact support the claims made by Albright and his followers. Today, only a minority of scholars continue to work within this framework, mainly for reasons of religious conviction. William Dever stated in 1993 that
[Albright’s] central theses have all been overturned, partly by further advances in Biblical criticism, but mostly by the continuing archaeological research of younger Americans and Israelis to whom he himself gave encouragement and momentum … The irony is that, in the long run, it will have been the newer ‘secular’ archaeology that contributed the most to Biblical studies, not ‘Biblical archaeology’.
The scholarly history of the Deuteronomic history parallels that of the Pentateuch: the European tradition history school argued that the narrative was untrustworthy and could not be used to construct a narrative history; the American Albright school asserted that it could when tested against the archaeological record; and modern archaeological techniques proved crucial in deciding the issue. The test case was the book of Joshua and its account of a rapid, destructive conquest of the Canaanite cities: but by the 1960s it had become clear that the archaeological record did not, in fact, support the account of the conquest given in Joshua: the cities which the Bible records as having been destroyed by the Israelites were either uninhabited at the time, or, if destroyed, were destroyed at widely different times, not in one brief period. The most high-profile example was the “fall of Jericho“.
John Garstang, who excavated in the 1930s, announced that he had found fallen walls dating to the time of the biblical Battle of Jericho. However, Garstang later revised the destruction to a much earlier period. Kathleen Kenyon dated the destruction of the walled city to the middle of the 16th century (c. 1550 BCE), too early to match the usual dating of the Exodus to Pharaoh Ramses, on the basis of her excavations in the early 1950s. The same conclusion, based on an analysis of all the excavation findings, was reached by Piotr Bienkowski.
A New Testament papyrus is a copy of a portion of the New Testament made on papyrus. To date, over 120 such papyri are known. In general, they are considered the earliest witnesses to the original text of the New Testament.
This elite status among New Testament manuscripts only began in the 20th century. The grouping was first introduced by Caspar René Gregory, who assigned papyri texts the Blackletter character followed by a superscript number. This number refers not to the age of the papyrus, but to the order in which it was registered. Before 1900, only 9 papyri manuscripts were known, and only one had been cited in a critical apparatus (11 by Constantin von Tischendorf). These 9 papyri were just single fragments, except for 15, which consisted of a single whole leaf. The discoveries of the twentieth century brought about the earliest known New Testament manuscript fragments.Kenyon in 1912 knew 14 papyri, Aland in his first edition of Kurzgefasste… in 1963 enumerated 76 papyri, in 1989 were known 96 papyri, and in 2008 124 papyri. As of 2015, a total of 131 papyri are known.
The most important papyri are 45 (the Chester-Beatty papyrus), which contains the Gospels; 46, which contains the letters of Paul; and47, which contains the Revelation of John. All of these date from sometime in the third century.
Discoveries were also made of more complete manuscripts, which allowed scholars to examine the textual character of these early manuscripts.
Not all of the manuscripts are simply New Testament texts: 60, 63, 80 are texts with commentaries; 2, 3, and 44 are lectionaries; 50, 55, and 78 are talismans; and 42, 10, 12, 42, 43, 62, and 99 belong to other miscellaneous texts, such as writing scraps, glossaries, or songs.
Every papyrus is cited in Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.
The Epistle to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul the Apostle to a number of Early Christian communities in Galatia. Scholars have suggested that this is either the Roman province ofGalatia in southern Anatolia, or a large region defined by an ethnic group of Celtic people in central Anatolia. Paul is principally concerned with the controversy surrounding Gentile Christians and the Mosaic Law during the Apostolic Age. Paul argues that the Gentile Galatians do not need to adhere to the tenets of the Mosaic Law, particularly circumcision, by contextualizing the role of the law in light of the revelation of Christ. Galatians has exerted enormous influence on the history of Christianity, the development of Christian theology, and the study of the apostle Paul.
No original of the letter is known to survive. The earliest reasonably complete version available to scholars today, named P46, dates to approximately the year 200 AD, approximately 150 years after the original was presumably drafted. This papyrus is fragmented in a few areas, causing some of the original text carefully preserved over the years to be missing, “however, through careful research relating to paper construction, handwriting development, and the established principles of textual criticism, scholars can be rather certain about where these errors and changes appeared and what the original text probably said.”
Biblical scholars agree that Galatians is a true example of Paul’s writing. The main arguments in favor of the authenticity of Galatians include its style and themes, which are common to the core letters of the Pauline corpus. Moreover, Paul’s possible description of the Council of Jerusalem (Gal.2:1–10) gives a different point of view from the description in Acts 15:2–29, if it is, in fact, describing the Jerusalem Council.
The central dispute about the letter concerns the question of how Gentiles could convert to Christianity, which shows that this letter was written at a very early stage in church history, when the vast majority of Christians were Jewish or Jewish proselytes, which historians refer to as the Jewish Christians. Another indicator that the letter is early is that there is no hint in the letter of a developed organization within the Christian community at large. This puts it during the lifetime of Paul himself.
In the Hebrew Bible, the covenant (Hebrew: berit) is the formal agreement between Yhwh and the people of Israel and Judah, in which each agrees to a set of obligations toward the other. The language and understanding of covenant is based on ancient Near Eastern treaties between nations.
What is the Difference between the Old Testament, the Tanakh, and the Hebrew Bible?by Amy-Jill Levine
The term Old Testament, with its implication that there must be a corresponding New Testament, suggests to some that Judaism’s Bible and by extension Judaism are outdated and incomplete. Well-intended academics thus offered Hebrew Bible as a neutral alternative. However, the new language confuses more than it clarifies by erasing distinctions between the Christian Old Testament and the Jewish Tanakh. It is understandable if Christians think the Old Testament and the Tanakh are one and the same thing, but a closer look reveals important distinctions. For example, Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian Old Testament canons include additional books, either written or preserved in Greek (Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Maccabees, etc.), that are not in the Jewish canon. And some Orthodox communions only use the Greek translation of the Hebrew (the Septuagint)—which varies in word choices and length from the Masoretic (Hebrew) Text. The Christian Old Testament and the Jewish Tanakh are also distinct from each other in terms of punctuation, canonical order, and emphases.
How Do Biblical Scholars Read the Hebrew Bible?
A quick look at the biblical-interpretation section in any college library will immediately show that biblical scholars read the Hebrew Bible in a variety of ways. What most scholars have in common, though, is that they avoid overtly doctrinal readings based on the idea that the Bible is the “word of God” because such interpretations are based on faith claims that are inherently unprovable. Though there is a place for theology in biblical scholarship, most scholars treat the Bible as a work of literature with human authors and readers who live in particular places and times that affect what they write or how they read a text. Biblical scholars use methods of reading that are critical—that is, they do not take the claims of the Hebrew Bible or of traditional interpreters at face value. These methods fall into a range of historical and literary categories.
Historical-critical interpretation seeks to understand the development and meaning of the Bible in its ancient context. First, scholars use textual criticism to try to determine the correct letters and words of the text in its original language. Because there are no existing copies of the Hebrew Bible from the period when it was written, this can be tricky. Different copies of the same text exist and may contain different versions of a particular verse or chapter—perhaps because over the centuries the scribes copying the text made mistakes, or perhaps because the text existed in more than one version from very early on.
A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a list of texts (or “books”) which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture. The word “canon” comes from the Greek κανών, meaning “rule” or “measuring stick“. Christians became the first to use the term in reference to scripture, but Eugene Ulrich regards the idea as Jewish.
Most of the canons listed below are considered “closed” (i.e., books cannot be added or removed), reflecting a belief that public revelation has ended and thus some person or persons can gather approved inspired texts into a complete and authoritative canon, which scholar Bruce Metzger defines as “an authoritative collection of books”. In contrast, an “open canon”, which permits the addition of books through the process of continuous revelation, Metzger defines as “a collection of authoritative books”. (A table of Biblical scripture for both Testaments, with regard to canonical acceptance in Christendom’s various major traditions, appears below.)
These canons have developed through debate (canonology) and agreement by the religious authorities of their respective faiths and denominations. Believers consider canonical books as inspired by God or as expressive of the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people. Some books such as the Jewish-Christian gospels, have been excluded from the canon altogether, but many disputed books considered non-canonical or even apocryphal by some are considered to be Biblical apocrypha or Deuterocanonical or fully canonical by others. Differences exist between the Jewish Tanakh and Christian biblical canons, and between the canons of different Christian denominations. The differing criteria and processes of canonization dictate what the various communities regard as inspired scripture. In some cases where varying strata of scriptural inspiration have accumulated, it becomes prudent to discuss texts that only have an elevated status within a particular tradition. This becomes even more complex when considering the open canons of the various Latter Day Saint sects—which one may view as extensions of Christianity and thus of Judaism—and the scriptural revelations purportedly given to several leaders over the years within that movement.
A biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. The word Bible comes from the Greek biblia (books); manuscript comes from Latin manu(hand) and scriptum (written). The original manuscript (the original parchment the author physically wrote on) is called the “autographa.” Biblical manuscripts vary in size from tiny scrolls containing individual verses of the Jewish scriptures (see Tefillin) to huge polyglot codices (multi-lingual books) containing both the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the New Testament, as well as extracanonical works.
The Torah (/ˈtɔːrəˌˈtoʊrə/; Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, “Instruction, Teaching”), or the Pentateuch (/ˈpɛntəˌtuːk, –ˌtjuːk/), is the central reference of thereligious Judaic tradition. It has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books of the twenty-four books of theTanakh, and it usually includes the perushim (rabbinic commentaries). The term “Torah” means instruction and offers a way of life for those who follow it; it can mean the continued narrative from Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh, and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the foundational narrative of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws (halakha).
In rabbinic literature the word “Torah” denotes both the five books (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב “Torah that is written”) as well as the Oral Torah(תורה שבעל פה, “Torah that is spoken”). The Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash.
According to rabbinic tradition, all of the teachings found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God through Moses, a prophet, some of them at Mount Sinai and others at the Tabernacle, and all the teachings were written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah we have today. According to a Midrash, the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and was used as the blueprint for Creation.
The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity (c. 600 BCE), based on earlier written and oral traditions, and that it was completed by the period of Achaemenid rule (c. 400 BCE). However, the 2004 discovery of fragments of the Hebrew Bible at Ketef Hinnom dating to the 7th century BCE, and thus to before the Babylonian captivity, suggests that at least some elements of the written Torah, were current before the Babylonian exile.
Traditionally, the words of the Torah are written on a scroll by a sofer on parchment in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the halachically-prescribed tune, in the presence of a congregation. Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases for Jewish communal life.
The study of biblical manuscripts is important because handwritten copies of books can contain errors. The science of textual criticism attempts to reconstruct the original text of books, especially those published prior to the invention of the printing press.
Serious readers of the Gospels notice various differences between them. One difference involves geographical arrangement.
Bart Ehrman in his book “Did Jesus Exist?” argues for the historical fact of Jesus of Nazareth.
Ehrman, whose books are more usually at odds with evangelicals, was this time attacked by atheist proponents of “mythicism” – the view that Jesus never existed.
He responds to the criticisms, including mythicists Bob Price and Richard Carrier and answers questions sent in by Unbelievable? listeners.
Ehrman’s reply to Carrier’s critique of his book:
Uploaded on Nov 21, 2011
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman brings his insights to Stanford University in a revealing lecture, “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered scripture and Readers Who May Never Know,” a textual criticism of Biblical manuscript tampering.
September 22, 2011, The Getty Center
Illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages are significant for the literary texts they preserve. But they are also important, historically and culturally, for their illustrations of the life of Christ. These artistic representations tell tales of their own, and the visual stories are not always found in the corresponding texts. A careful examination of these images shows clearly and convincingly that medieval artists were not only familiar with the stories of the canonical Gospels, but also with many noncanonical apocryphal tales of Jesus. The apocryphal stories, in some instances, were understood to be “Gospel truth” on par with accounts found in Scripture. Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores both canonical and apocryphal narratives of Jesus’s life.
Dr. Richard Carrier flew in from California to lecture the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics on the historicity of Christ. The historicity of Christ has appeared in the public consciousness over the last few years because of such individuals such as Robert Price and Dr. Carrier. This topic deals with the analysis of historical data to determine if Jesus existed as an actual person.
A library of articles by Dr. Carrier:
Wiki for Dr. Carrier
Did Christianity begin with a mythical Christ? Was the original Jesus a man or a mythical savior god? Solving the Jesus Puzzle through the Christian and ancient-world record, from the Pauline epistles to the Gospels to the second century Christian apologists, from Philo to Josephus to Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy.
Christian faith evolved from a Jesus myth to an historical Jesus.
Published on Sep 13, 2013
Uploaded on Nov 9, 2010
The Rev Richard Coggins
Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies
at King’s College London
The Ethel M Wood Lecture
5 May 1994
… Much of the underlying assumption of the ‘History of Israel’ exercise has centred around the assumption, sometimes spelt out, often unwritten, that increased knowledge of archaeology and of sociology would confirm the historical outline conveyed in the biblical text. Well, sometimes it does; but in a very large number of cases it simply serves to show that the biblical account is impossible historically. Attempts, very popular in the 1960s, to make Abraham a kind of Honorary Hurrian, whose marital and legal habits conformed to the texts discovered at Nuzi, are now generally abandoned. The very existence of a presettlement period of nomadic existence for Israel is now widely doubted. If we turn to detail it is the same story; how could the walls of Jericho have fallen if there was no settled city at any credible time for a supposed siege? And so on: I will not bore you with details, but the traditional story and the reconstruction from modern scholarly methods simply do not match. Some will of course say: So much the worse for modern methods, but I cannot suppose that that kind of conclusion was what this lecture foundation had in mind.
We have rather to recognise that the search for ancient Israel may have a long way to go before anything approaching a coherent history, or the confidently structured kind which has characterised the genre, can legitimately be written. At least down to the Babylonian period there are too many imponderables for any kind of confident reconstruction. More attention has begun to be paid to the Judaism of the Second Temple, or Second Commonwealth; and fascinating and important though such study is, it is notoriously difficult for lack of evidence to put together anything like a coherent and structured history. Finally the question arises as to the value of the material from Genesis to 2 Kings which has been the main subject of our attention this evening. Here there will surely be sharp differences of opinion. For some to deny them the status of accurate history will deny them all value. For others much will depend on the power to be granted in religious terms to the concept of story. If a text tells a story of a people’s belief in God and the way it has been manifested over the ages how much will hang on historical reliability, how much can be accepted through the power of the story and its correspondence with human experience, so that listeners can say ‘Yes, that could be my story too’?
Where the Genesis stories really came from: Not surprisingly, it seems the Genesis stories really came from the same place that the Jewish people said they really came from– the much, much more ancient civilization of Sumer (in the region later known as Babylon). The Jews believed themselves to be descended from Abraham, who after a series of wanderings eventually moved to the future home of Israel. His homeland, or where he originally moved from was Ur (Genesis 11:31) and Ur was one of the many city states which made up the country of Sumer, called by many scholars the world’s first advanced civilization.
The Sumerians invented, among other things, the stairstep pyramid temples called ziggurats, the wheel, and, perhaps most importantly for our purposes, writing. One of the things they liked to write about, naturally, was the activities of their gods and goddesses. The first written tales of creation were recorded by the Sumerians and who did they say created the world? A goddess. Nammu, the mother of all things, Goddess of the Primordial Sea, created the heavens and earth from her own body long before Yahweh had ever been heard of. Thousands of years before, in fact, as this civilization dates to about 3,500 BC. For comparison, Father Abraham is said to have lived about 1,800 BC in the Biblical narrative, around the time that Sumer was taken over by Babylon. Scholars debate the authenticity of this tale, though. Some say that, rather than a legendary patriarch, Abraham was a literary fiction created by Jewish priests while the nation of Judah (southern Israel) was in exile in Babylon in the 5th and 6th centures BC.
Whether the Jewish people were descended from a Sumerian man, as Genesis asserts, or whether they simply stole Babylon’s ancient tales (which included Sumer’s) while they were exiled in that country much later, there is a clear connection between Israel and Sumer. This no doubt explains the reason why all the major stories of “Jewish” history prior to the beginning of Abraham’s story in Genesis 11 are nearly identical to tales written first in Sumer. There is, however, one very important difference between the Jewish (later to become Christian) version of these stories and those of the the far more ancient Sumerian culture: In the Biblical creation narrative the gender of the Creator of Heaven and Earth has been switched from female to male and the Goddess erased from the tale. Unless, that is, you know where to look.
Nammu and Enki, mother of the world and father of humankind: According to the Sumerians, Nammu, the Primordial Sea Goddess, was the first to exist and hence, the creator of all things. She began by giving birth to An, the Sky God, and Ki, the Earth Goddess. She also was mother to Enki, the God of Water and Wisdom. Enki was a bit of a trickster and troublemaker, but also the one who helped Nammu make human beings. Just as in the Biblical narrative, we were fashioned out of clay, at Enki’s suggestion (as shown in this translation by S.N. Kramer, who also translated the other verses below):
“Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, [Nammu] do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah [earth-mother or birth goddess] will work above you,
The goddesses [of birth] . . . will stand by you at your fashioning;
O my mother, decree its [the newborn’s] fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man . . . . “
Notice that, just like in the later Bible, humans are made in the image of the Gods. The Sumerians also first wrote about Eden, which they called Dilmun, describing it like this:
“In Dilmun the raven uttered no cries,
The kite uttered not the cry of the kite,
The lion killed not,
The wolf snatched not the lamb,
Unknown was the kid-killing dog…”
The story in which Eve (which means “mother of the living”) is taken from Adam’s rib is probably a garbled rewrite of Ninti, a Sumerian Goddess whose name is a pun, meaning both “lady life” and “rib,” and who assists Enki and Nammu in bringing forth humans.
Later, when Enlil, the king of the gods, decides to wipe the troublesome humans off the face of the earth with a great flood, Enki saves us all by convincing one man (called in different accounts Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, or Ziusudra) to build an ark.
Also here is the equivalent of the Biblical tale of the invention of multiple languages. Just as in the Tower of Babel story of Genesis, the people once spoke the same language, but when their languages were altered in the Sumerian version, Enki did it:
“In those days, the lands of Suberi (and) Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].
(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”
The disappearance of Nammu: Yahweh of the Israelites was not the first Sky God to usurp Nammu’s position. Around the same century that Abraham allegedly skipped town (whether before, during, or after depends on which scholar’s estimate of his century is correct), the city-state of Babylon took over Ur and the rest of the country of Sumer. Under the much more patriarchal influence of the Babylonian Empire the Creator Goddess lost her position to the Sky God Marduk.
The Babylonians said Marduk created the heavens and earth by murdering Tiamat (Nammu’s Babylonian name) and forming the universe from her body. Tiamat did not go out quietly. The tale of how Tiamat, primordial Sea Goddess and source of all things created demonic monsters to fight against the hero god Marduk and of how Marduk defeated her, claiming kingship of the gods and creating heaven and earth from her body is told in the Enuma Elish.
Eventually, when the priests of Judah rewrote the tale, the Goddess would disappear altogether from the narrative . Well, almost disappear. She is traceable still by linguistics, for when God hovers over “the deep” in the opening scene of Genesis (Chapter 1, Verse 2), the word translated here is tehom, meaning the deeps, the abyss, and linguistically the Semitic form of Tiamat, the name of the Babylonian Goddess. In time, Nammu would be forgotten, but now, thanks to archaeologists, we can remember the Goddess who came before Heaven and Earth, before the sky gods ascended the throne of history, before even the Bible, before ever the priest put pen to scroll to write the words “In the Beginning….”
According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ: Bet HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount (also known as Mount Zion), before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple, and no mention of it in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature.
The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the Israelites. This would date its construction to the 10th century BCE, although it is possible that an earlier Jebusite sanctuary had stood on the site. During the kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the god of Israel, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.
Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. No excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times. An Ivory pomegranate mentions priests in the house of YHWH, and an inscription recording the Temple’s restoration under Jehoash have appeared on the antiquities market, but the authenticity of both has been challenged and they remain the subject of controversy. No conclusive archeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple has been found
On Passover last Sunday, Rabbi David Wolpe raised that provocative question before 2,200 faithful at Sinai Temple in Westwood. He minced no words.
“The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all,” Wolpe told his congregants.
Wolpe’s startling sermon may have seemed blasphemy to some. In fact, however, the rabbi was merely telling his flock what scholars have known for more than a decade. Slowly and often outside wide public purview, archeologists are radically reshaping modern understanding of the Bible. It was time for his people to know about it, Wolpe decided.
After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua’s fabled military campaigns never occurred–archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible.
Today, the prevailing theory is that Israel probably emerged peacefully out of Canaan–modern-day Lebanon, southern Syria, Jordan and the West Bank of Israel–whose people are portrayed in the Bible as wicked idolators. Under this theory, the Canaanites who took on a new identity as Israelites were perhaps joined or led by a small group of Semites from Egypt–explaining a possible source of the Exodus story, scholars say. As they expanded their settlement, they may have begun to clash with neighbors, perhaps providing the historical nuggets for the conflicts recorded in Joshua and Judges.
“Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” said William Dever, a professor of Near Eastern archeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona and one of America’s preeminent archeologists.
Khirbet Qeiyafa (Elah Fortress) is the site of an ancient city overlooking the Elah Valley. The ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007, near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 20 miles (32 km) from Jerusalem. It covers nearly 6 acres (2.4 ha) and is encircled by a 700-meter-long (2,300 ft) city wall constructed of stones weighing up to eight tons each. A number of archaeologists have claimed that it might be the biblical city of Sha’arayim or Neta’im and that it might contain the ruins of King David‘s palace. Others are sceptical, and suggest it might represent either a Judahite or Canaanite fortress.
The meaning of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, is uncertain. Scholars suggest it may mean “the place with a wide view.” The modern Hebrew name, Elah Fortress, derives from the location of the site on the northern bank of Nahal Elah, one of six brooks that flow from the Judean mountains to the coastal plain.
The Elah Fortress lies just inside a north-south ridge of hills separating Philistia and Gath to the west from Judea to the east. The ridge also includes the site currently identified as Tel Azekah. Past this ridge is a series of connecting valleys between two parallel groups of hills. Tel Sokho lies on the southern ridge with Tel Adullam behind it. The Elah Fortress is situated on the northern ridge, overlooking several valleys with a clear view of the Judean Mountains. Behind it to the northeast is Tel Yarmut. From the topography, archaeologists believe this was the location of the cities of Adullam, Sokho, Azekah and Yarmut cited in Joshua 15:35. These valleys formed the border between Philistia and Judea.
The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa was surveyed in the 1860s by Victor Guérin who reported the presence of a village on the hilltop. In 1875, British surveyors noted only stone heaps. In 1932, Dimitri Baramki, reported the site to hold a 35 square metres (380 sq ft) watchtower associated with Khirbet Quleidiya (Horvat Qolad), 200 metres (660 ft) east. The site was mostly neglected in the 20th century and not mentioned by leading scholars. Yehuda Dagan conducted more intense surveys in the 1990s and documented the visible remains. The site raised curiosity in 2005 when Saar Ganor discovered impressive Iron Age structures under the remnants.
Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa began in 2007, directed by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and continued in 2008. Nearly 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft) of an Iron Age IIA city were unearthed. Based on pottery styles and two burned olive pits tested for carbon-14 at Oxford University, Garfinkel and Ganor have dated the site to 1050–970 BC, although Israel Finkelstein contends evidence points to habitation between 1050 and 915 BC.
The initial excavation by Ganor and Garfinklel took place from August 12 to 26, 2007 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. In their preliminary report at the annual ASOR conference on November 15, they presented a theory that the site was the Biblical Azekah, which until then had been exclusively associated with Tell Zakariya. In 2008, after the discovery of a second gate, they identified the site as the biblical Sha’arayim (“two gates” in Hebrew).
Releasing the preliminary dig reports for the 2010 and 2011 digging seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated: “The excavations at Khirbat Qeiyafa clearly reveal an urban society that existed in Judah already in the late eleventh century BCE. It can no longer be argued that the Kingdom of Judah developed only in the late eighth century BCE or at some other later date.”
Discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa are significant to the debate about the veracity of the biblical account of the United Monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II. As no archaeological finds were found that could corroborate claims of the existence of a magnificent biblical kingdom, various scholars have advanced the opinion that the kingdom was no more than a small tribal entity. Garfinkel, who said in 2010 that the debate could not “be answered by the Qeiyafa excavations”, is of the opinion that “what is clear, however, is that the kingdom of Judah existed already as a centrally organized state in the tenth century B.C.E”  In addition to Garfinkel’s theory there are two other hypotheses: one, supported by Nadav Na’aman and Ido Koch holds the ruins to be Canaanite, based on strong similarities with the nearby Canaanite excavations at Beit Shemesh. The third hypothesis, advanced by Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin, maintains that the site shows affiliations with a North Israelite entity.
In 2010, Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as the “Neta’im” of 1 Chronicles 4:23, due to its proximity to Khirbet Ğudrayathe (biblical Gederah). The inhabitants of both cities were said to be “potters” and “in the King’s service”, a description that is consistent with the archeological discoveries at that site.
Yehuda Dagan of the Israel Antiquities Authority also disagrees with the identification as Sha’arayim. Dagan believes the ancient Philistine retreat route after their defeat in the battle at the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17:52), more likely identifies Sha’arayim with the remains of Khirbet esh-Shari’a. Dagan proposes that Khirbet Qeiyafa be identified with biblical Adithaim (Joshua 15:36).
The fortifications at Khirbet Qeiyafa predate those of contemporary Lachish, Beersheba, Arad, and Timnah. All these sites have yielded pottery dated to early Iron Age II. The parallel valley to the north, mentioned in Samuel I, runs from the Philistine city of Ekron to Tel Beit Shemesh. The city gate of the Elah Fortress faces west with a path down to the road leading to the sea, and was thus named “Gath Gate” or “Sea Gate.” The 23-dunam (5.7-acre) site is surrounded by a casement wall and fortifications. The top layer of the fortress shows that the fortifications were renewed in the Hellenistic period.
Garfinkel suggests that it was a Judean city with 500–600 inhabitants during the reign of David and Solomon. Based on pottery finds at Qeiyafa and Gath, archaeologists believe the sites belonged to two distinct ethnic groups. “The finds have not yet established who the residents were,” says Aren Maeir, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist digging at Gath. “It will become more clear if, for example, evidence of the local diet is found. Excavations have shown that Philistines ate dogs and pigs, while Israelites did not. The nature of the ceramic shards found at the site suggest residents might have been neither Israelites nor Philistines but members of a third, forgotten people.” Evidence that the city was not Philistine comes from the private houses that abut the city wall, an arrangement that was not used in Philistine cities. There is also evidence of equipment for baking flat bread and hundreds of bones from goats, cattle, sheep, and fish. Significantly, no pig bones have been uncovered, suggesting that the city was not Philistine. Nadav Na’aman of Tel Aviv University nevertheless associates it with Philistine Gath, citing the necessity for further excavations as well as evidence from Bet Shemesh whose inhabitants also avoided eating pork, yet were associated with Ekron. Na’aman proposed identification with the Philistine city of Gob.
Yigal Levin has proposed that the ma’gal (מעגל) or “circular camp” of the Israelites which is mentioned in the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:20) was described this way because it fitted the circular shape of the nearby Khirbet Qeiyafa. Levin argues that the story of David and Goliath is set decades before Khirbet Qeiyafa was built and so the reference to Israel’s encampment at the ma’gal probably does “not represent any particular historical event at all”. But when the story was composed centuries later, the round structure of Khirbet Qeiyafa “would still have been visible and known to the author of 1 Samuel 17“, who “guessed its function, and worked it into his story”.
On July 18, 2013, the Israel Antiquities Authority issued the press release “King David’s Palace was Uncovered in the Judean Shephelah” on behalf of Khirbet Qeiyafa archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor. The report discusses two large buildings dated to the tenth century B.C.E. by the Qeiyafa team. One of the buildings is a large palatial structure, the other is a pillared store room with hundreds of stamped storage vessels. The suggestion that the larger structure can be associated with one of King David’s palaces led to significant media coverage as well as claims of sensationalism. Professor Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, pointed out that there are still doubts about the existence of King David’s monarchy and among others Israel Finkelstein suggested that it could have been built by other people such as Philistines and Canaanites.
(AP)—A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.
Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa , is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.
“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.
Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were “unequivocal evidence” that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.
Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.
Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historic claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, stands today.
In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.
The current excavators are not the first to claim they found a King David palace. In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar said she found the remains of King David’s palace in Jerusalem dating to the 10th century B.C., when King David would have ruled. Her claim also attracted skepticism, including from Garfinkel himself.
Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to that same period. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 15 meters (50 feet) long, suggesting it was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.
Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, only visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa or other palaces for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.
“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”
Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites or other peoples in the area.
He said there was no way to verify who built the site without finding a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it. Last week, for instance, archaeologists in Israel found pieces of a sphinx bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh who reigned when the statue was carved.
Garfinkel insisted that critics like Finkelstein are relying on outdated theories.
“I think other people have a collapsed theory and we have fresh data,” he said.
Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, ancient Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible over the question of the relevance of the biblical account for reconstructing early Israels history have created the need for a balanced articulation of the issues and their prospective resolutions. This book brings together for the first time and under one cover, a currently emerging centrist paradigm as articulated by two leading figures in the fields of early Israelite archaeology and history. Although Finkelstein and Mazar advocate distinct views of early Israels history, they nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and the ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for Iron Age Israel. The results of their research are featured in accessible, parallel syntheses of the historical reconstruction of early Israel that facilitate comparison and contrast of their respective interpretations. The historical essays presented here are based on invited lectures delivered in October of 2005 at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Detroit, Michigan.
This is an excellent introduction to the latest research in Biblical Archaeology, presenting a middle ground between the Minimalist and Maximalist debate which has sought to polarise the issue over the last 15 years. Both Finkelstein and Mazar are leading exponents in the field of Post-processual Archaeology, but neither are afraid of examining where the Biblical record is confirmed or challenged by the findings of modern archaeology. For a balanced view, with good editorial summaries, this book looks at the various periods and brings the reader up-to-date with the findings of the latest ecavations.
Would you care to back that claim up, “that Finkelstein publicly admitted…his views are incorrect,” with legitimate references? By legitimate I mean don’t cite links to religious websites with an agenda to flog by using spurious logic, fallacious arguments and highly edited quotes to suit their needs.
I would suspect you yourself are squarely in the camp with a bias to prove the Bible as history with your definitive statement, “…substantiating the united monarchy again.” Especially since your categorical affirmation of the “true in the light of the excavations” contradicts the article that surely you can’t be referring to from the National Geographic issue of December 2010, David and Solomon – Kings of Controversy, where Finkelstein’s main opponents entire arguments are based on the entirely circular argument of trying to use the Bible to prove biblical history, albeit using archaeology to force fit discoveries into their narrow interpretations.
To quote from the article, shattering your own claims about the “true light” of Khirbet Qeiyafa: “Here would be a second reason to be skeptical of Yossi Garfinkel’s conclusions: He announced them, swiftly and dramatically, despite the fact that he had only four olive pits on which to base his dating, a single inscription of a highly ambiguous nature, and a mere 5 percent of his site excavated. In other words, says archaeologist David Ilan, “Yossi has an agenda-partly ideological, but also personal.” This is hardly a firm and valid premise from which to dispense with all the evidence of “low chronology” and revert post haste to the Bible as the alpha and omega authority of its own self-interested history.
His critics, themselves with a religiously-fueled biased agenda to prove the historicity of the Bible, “claim” they have undermined Finkelstein’s theories, but I don’t see where he publicly admitted that he has to rethink his earlier positions. Indeed the article states quite clearly: With greater venom, Finkelstein mocks Garfinkel’s discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa: “Look, you’ll never catch me saying, ‘I’ve found one olive pit at a stratum in Megiddo, and this olive pit-which goes against hundreds of carbon-14 determinations-is going to decide the fate of Western civilization.’ ” Though in fairness and my desire not to use the selective reporting techniques of the inherently biased, the article does go on to say in the next paragraph that the discoveries do indeed put Finkelstein’s theories on the defensive. On the defensive, that is not the same as an admission of being incorrect, or that he is even wrong at all; he could still be proven right in the end and the new discoveries debunked. Frankly, the shamefully adamant statements you make in your review above strike me as being wholly disingenuous and deliberately phrased to confuse and mislead the uninformed with unsubstantiated and incorrect claims. I wait for you to prove me wrong by providing the requested reference above to the November 2010 statement where Finkelstein states this book is now incorrect.
If you’ve been paying attention all along, you would know that the earlier “Bible in one hand and spade in the other” approach by devout Judeo-Christian pioneers to biblical archaeology has been wholly discredited by the numerous examples of later unbiased, scientifically-minded archaeologists proving the original Bible-inspired categorizations of dig sites were clearly wrong and that you can’t classify a site as being such and such, because a passage in the Bible says it must be so. Archaeologists must look at the evidence without any preconceived notions shaped by their religious ideology, as they do on other sites without the baggage of religious dogma.
In short, Finkelstein gets attacked by traditionalists, indoctrinated as they have been since Sunday School on tales of David and Goliath, for daring to challenge their “faith” with evidence. Undermining strict literal interpretations of the Bible does not detract from the spiritual messages inherent in many of the biblical stories – to have hope in times of suffering – as cited by Rabbi David Wolpe during his Passover sermon in 2001 when he challenged the historicity of the Exodus.
I’ve love to see a legitimate reference for Finkelstein “recanting”. I’m currently doing a university course on archeology and the history of Israel, and I’ve been looking for recent – citable! – sources for a major essay project.
In polite terminology, “Please elaborate on your claim, so that I can investigate it, myself, and possibly include it in a scholarly essay.” In vulgar terms, “Put up or shut up.”
P.Gaber’s assertions above are not only NOT backed up by any cited reference to this supposed “recantation” by Finkelstein, but are refuted by what Finkelstein, himself, has said about both the Khirbet Qeiyafa site as well as the work of Israeli “archaeologist” Eilat Mazar. Simply put, P.Gaber is contriving a lie to throw potential readers of this book off the trail.
In the case of the Khirbet Qeiyafa site, which was initially dated between 1050-970 BCE, Finkelstein is specifically on record as having stated that he is skeptical of the date range and the methodology employed by the authors (Finkelstein, Israel; Eli Piasetzky (June 2010). “Khirbet Qeiyafa: Absolute Chronology”. Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 37 (1)). Furthermore, it was merely on the assumption that the site could be dated between 1050-970 BCE that the authors assumed it proved the existence of a United Monarchy under the successive reigns of kings Saul, David, and Solomon, despite the fact that no inscriptions discovered at the site mentioned anything about any of these monarchs, nor any monarchy, in general. In fact, the only inscription discovered at the site was that on a 6 inch by 6 inch ostracon, which failed to mention anything that could be uniquely identified with any Biblical text or tradition. Making matters worse, the ostracon appears to have been written in Proto Phoenician, not Hebrew (the written form of which had already been in existence for at least three centuries prior to the 10th century BCE), which throws doubt on the supposed “Biblical” character of the site.
Secondly, the work of “archaeologist” Eliat Mazar has been widely considered highly dubious by mainstream scholars including Finkelstein. For example, Mazar claimed that the “Large Stone Structure,” which she discovered in 2005, was datable to the 10th century BCE and likely the palace of King David. Other scholars, however, have noted their skepticism of both her dating technique and her methodology, which she admits is Biblically-inspired. As Finkelstein put it: “The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar’s literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence.” (Israel Finkelstein, Ze’ev Herzog, Lily Singer-Avitz and David Ussishkin (2007), Has King David’s Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?, Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, 34(2), 142-164.) Clearly, Finkelstein and others consider her scholarship to be of questionable merit. It should also be pointed out that Mazar’s funding for this excavation was provided by a private banker, and not any academic or professional scientific organization. In the field of archaeological (and other scientific) research, privately funded operations are usually an indication that the research was not taken seriously by the scientific community and could not secure funding through a reputable scientific organization (e.g., the National Science Foundation).
These kinds of bogus book reviews are commonly found on Amazon, and particularly in association with scholarly works having to do with archeology, history, or literature that touch on the Bible. It seems that many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are not comfortable with the idea that the truth may not comport with their self-deluding theological tendencies, which makes one wonder why they would bother reading books at all.
Los Libros de la Biblia fueron escritos por diversos personajes de la historia, tanto hebrea en el Antiguo Testamento como griega cristiana en el Nuevo Testamento.
El Antiguo Testamento ( o Escrituras Hebreoarameas) se compone, según el canon, de 39 libros para los protestantes, de 46 libros para la iglesia católica (49 si se cuentan de forma separada el Capítulo 6 del Libro de Baruc, y los Capítulos 13 y 14 del Libro de Daniel), y hasta 53 para las diferentes iglesias cristianas ortodoxas.
El Nuevo Testamento (o Escrituras Griegas Cristianas), que no se encuentra en los escritos judíos, se compone de 27 libros para todos los grupos de confesión cristiana.
Así, el total de libros de la Biblia varía según el canon. Los primeros cristianos utilizaron el canon alejandrino, 1 una traducción del hebreo al griego que incluía una serie de libros que fueron rechazados del canón del Tanaj judío, y fueron recibidos por la iglesia cristiana de los primeros siglos. En la iglesia católica se llama a estos libros deuterocanónicos. Los protestantes los han llamado apócrifos. Las iglesias cristianas orientales y ortodoxas incluyen en sus Biblias de cuatro a ocho textos en adición a éstos, y rechazan el uso occidental de distinguirlos de los protocanónicos.
El texto hebreo original consistía solamente de consonantes. Los libros de la Torá (como los judíos conocen a los primeros cinco libros de la Biblia, o Pentateuco) generalmente tienen nombres basados en la primera palabra prominente de cada libro. Sin embargo, los nombres en español no son traducciones del hebreo, sino están basados en los nombres en griego creados por la traducción llamada Septuaginta, basándose en los nombres rabínicos que describen el contenido temático de cada libro.
Estos son los libros del Antiguo Testamento, ordenados según la costumbre occidental:
¹ No incluyen las partes griegas, que se consideran deuterocanónicas.
Libros del Nuevo Testamento
|Hechos de los Apóstoles||Lucas|
|II Juan||Juan (?)|
|III Juan||Juan (?)|
|Apocalipsis o Revelación de Juan||Apóstol Juan|