Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Bible Unearthed. Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (pdf)

Prologue. In the Days of King Josiah

The world in which the Bible was created was not a mythic realm of great cities and saintly heroes, but a tiny, down-to-earth kingdom where people struggled for their future against the all-too-human fears of war, poverty, injustice, disease, famine, and drought. The historical saga contained in the Bible—from Abraham's encounter with God and his journey to Canaan, to Moses' deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, to the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah—-was not a miraculous revelation, but a brilliant product of the human imagination. It was first conceived—as recent archaeological findings suggest—during the span of two or three generations, about twenty-six hundred years ago. Its birthplace was the kingdom of Judah, a sparsely settled region of shepherds and farmers, ruled from an out-of-the-way royal city precariously perched in the heart of the hill country on a narrow ridge between steep, rocky ravines.

During a few extraordinary decades of spiritual ferment and political agitation toward the end of the seventh century ВСЕ, an unlikely coalition of Judahite court officials, scribes, priests, peasants, and prophets came together to create a new movement. At its core was a sacred scripture of unparalleled literary and spiritual genius. It was an epic saga woven together from an astonishingly rich collection of historical writings, memories, legends, folk tales, anecdotes, royal propaganda, prophecy, and ancient poetry. Partly an original composition, partly adapted from earlier versions and sources, that literary masterpiece would undergo further editing and elaboration to become a spiritual anchor not only for the descendants of the people of Judah but for communities all over the world.

The historical core of the Bible was born in the bustle of the crowded streets of Jerusalem, in the courts of the royal palace of the Davidic dynasty, and in the Temple of the God of Israel. In stark contrast to the countless other sanctuaries of the ancient Near East, with their ecumenical readiness to conduct international relations through the honoring of allies' deities and religious symbols, Jerusalem's Temple stood insistently alone J In reaction to the pace and scope of the changes brought to Judah from the outside, the seventh-century leaders in Jerusalem, headed by King Josiah—a sixteenth-generation descendant of King David—declared all traces of foreign worship to be anathema, and indeed the cause of Judah’s current misfortunes. They embarked on a vigorous campaign of religious purification in the countryside, ordering the destruction of rural shrines, declaring them to be sources of evil. Henceforth, Jerusalem's Temple, with its inner sanctuary, altar, and surrounding courtyards at the summit of the city would be recognized as the only legitimate place of worship for the people of Israel. In that innovation, modern monotheism was born. At the same time, Judah’s leaders' political ambitions soared. They aimed to make the Jerusalem Temple and royal palace the center of a vast Pan-Israelite kingdom, a realization of the legendary united Israel of David and Solomon.

How strange it is to think that Jerusalem only belatedly—and suddenly—rose to the center of Israelite consciousness. Such is the power of the Bible's own story that it has persuaded the world that Jerusalem was always central to the experience of all Israel and that the descendants of David were always blessed with special holiness, rather than being just another aristocratic clan fighting to remain in power despite internal strife and unprecedented threats from outside.

How tiny their royal city would have appeared to a modern observer! The built-up area of Jerusalem in the seventh century ВСЕ covered an area of no more than one hundred and fifty acres, about half the size of the present Old City of Jerusalem. Its population of around fifteen thousand would have made it seem hardly more than a small Middle Eastern market town huddling behind walls and gates, with bazaars and houses clustered to the west and south of a modest royal palace and Temple complex. Yet Jerusalem had never before been even as large as this. In the seventh century it was bursting at the seams with a swollen population of royal officials, priests, prophets, refugees, and displaced peasants. Few other cities in any historical eras have been so tensely self-conscious of their history, identity, destiny, and direct relationship with God.

These new perceptions of ancient Jerusalem and the historical circumstances that gave birth to the Bible are due in large measure to the recent discoveries of archaeology. Its finds have revolutionized the study of early Israel and have cast serious doubt on the historical basis of such famous biblical stories as the wanderings of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt and conquest of Canaan, and the glorious empire of David and Solomon.

This book aims to tell the story of ancient Israel and the birth of its sacred scriptures from a new, archaeological perspective. Our goal will be to attempt to separate history from legend. Through the evidence of recent discoveries, we will construct a new history of ancient Israel In which some of the most famous events and personalities mentioned in the Bible play unexpectedly different roles. Yet our purpose, ultimately, is not mere deconstruction. It is to share the most recent archaeological insights—still largely unknown outside scholarly circles—not only on when, but also why the Bible was written, and why it remains so powerful today.

You can read or download full text of this book in pdf format directly here:


  1. thanks for the resources ...... a great website that I hope to examine in detail ...the television documentaries 'unearthed ' are outstanding of their type, the best on youtube and which I keep returning to.

  2. Hello. I have to tell you that your book is far from the truth and that there is more biblical evidence than you think. More than enough to proof the creation and many other accounts as Sodom, Gomorrah, the Exodus... (Do not believe me, you just have to look into it and shortly you will find out about it). So what you are saying in that book is actually not true. It may be you do not know what you are writing about or it may be that you do not even believe in the bible and are saying stuff without checking it first. If you are a believer at least try to cerciorate before you write a book and confuse many. I am not saying that I am perfect but check if what I tell you is or not true.