Biblical History vs. “Myth”

I am in the middle of reading an interesting book entitled, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Secrets by Finkelstein and Silberman.  I am only half-way through, but it is evident their contention is that the Old Testament is a result of a Deuteronomic writing during the reign of King Josiah in the seventh century BCE. They cite examples of archaelogical evidence that the patriarchs, Exodus, Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, King David’s united kingdom, etc. never existed. They contend the Hebrew Bible, for the most part, is a work written during the reign of the Judahite king Josiah to legitimize and support his dream of reacquiring the lost territories of the north, which had been conquered.  The book also has an alternative explanation for the origin and development of the Israelites as a people who were Canaanite but formed themselves in the hill countries of the north and south, who worshiped the God YHWH (and other gods at times on the side).

I will begin reading soon a book by Norman Gottwald entitled, The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction.  It is my understanding that Gottwald offers yet another view as to the development of the Israelite nation, i.e., that they were Canaanite people that fled the coastal cities for the hill country and worshiped the God YHWH and later came into contact with a very small band of escaped slaves from Egypt with a story of deliverance and monotheistic ideas gleaned from religious change in Egypt.  These elements then merged to form a religion and people.

After I complete my reading, I will report back. I would be interested in anyone’s ideas who may have read either or both of these books. Post a comment if you are one of them.

As you can surmise, I love ancient history.  I wish I could read the ancient languages.  I once knew Koine Greek, but I never studied Hebrew, Aramaic or other ancient languages.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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2 Responses to Biblical History vs. “Myth”

  1. Mary says:

    With so many explanations of the bible, which versions are we to believe?

  2. admin says:

    The different ways that biblical scholars are using now to study the Bible often leave people asking your question. The best way I think for many of us to study the Bible is to go to a good Bible study program at the local parish, such as the Little Rock Bible Study series, or at home to use a good Bible Commentary such as The Collegeville Bible Commentary which is quite readable. It takes a look at all these various explanations of the Bible, like you say, and digests them for you and give you a good summary.

    Hope that helps.

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