Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past

Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past

Hardback

By (author) Thomas L. Thompson

List price $54.94

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  • Publisher: BASIC BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 165mm x 236mm x 38mm | 794g
  • Publication date: 18 May 1999
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0465006221
  • ISBN 13: 9780465006229
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition

Product description

A major new synthesis and interpretation of findings over the past twenty-five years in biblical archaeology. Thompsons conclusions are sure to spark intense debate.. This is a revolutionary, revisionist book on the Old Testament and the early history of the Middle East. There have been many extraordinary advances in Palestinian and biblical archaeology in recent years. This book is a synthesis of all the cutting-edge archaeology and textual studies of the last 25 years as well as studies in the history of agriculture and technology, settlement patterns, climatology, sociology, and economics. }This is a revolutionary, revisionist book on the Old Testament and the early history of the Middle East. There have been many extraordinary advances in Palestinian and biblical archaeology in recent years. This book is a synthesis of all the cutting-edge archaeology and textual studies of the last 25 years as well as studies in the history of agriculture and technology, settlement patterns, climatology, sociology, and economics. Among its startling conclusions are:1) Today we no longer have a history of Israel.2) We can no longer talk about a time of the patriarchs.3 ) There was never a United Monarchy [Saul, David, Solomon] in history and it is meaningless to speak of pre-exilic prophets and their writing.4) Israel was only a small highland patronate lying north of Jerusalem and south of the Jezreel Valley.5) The notion Israel and its history is a literary fiction.These conclusions are bound to set off some explosive arguments. The synthesis draws on established and widely accepted specific, scholarly work. The authors conclusions, however, are radical and new. }

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Editorial reviews

Arguing that the Bible should be read as literature rather than history in the modern sense, biblical archaeologist Thompson (Biblical Studies/Univ. of Copenhagen) sweepingly reassesses the historical evidence for the existence of ancient Israel. Bitter scholarly controversies, fueled by religious belief, have raged for decades about the historical authenticity of such Bible stories as the Garden of Eden, the Flood, and the flight from Egypt. These debates are misconceived, argues Thompson: much of the Bible was never intended to be read literally, or even to be understood as history as modern readers conceive it. Instead, much of the Bible consists of tall stories and other types of literature that, in ancient Jewish society as in other ancient cultures, provided people with an understanding of a common past. Relying on archaeological rather than biblical evidence, the author sketches the ancient economy and society of the people of Palestine. Rather than the unified "kingdom of Israel" depicted in the Bible, he paints a picture of a turbulent tribal Palestine, buffeted by drought, waves of immigrants from the Aegean, and expansionist neighbors. Contrasting this evidence with biblical narratives, shot through as they are with elements of the miraculous and the fantastic, Thompson questions the historicity of such scriptural accounts as the stories of the kingships of Saul, David, and Solomon and the Babylonian exile. Thompson finds magnificent poetry in the Bible, brilliant epic narratives and folktales, and great philosophical and moral writing that raises important questions about the meaning of life and the name of God: "it is only as history that the Bible does not make sense." In rather heavyhanded fashion, Thompson makes a good general point: that many biblical narratives should not be read literally as history; but in his total reliance on archaeology, he may overstate his case somewhat for the ahistoricity of the Bible. (Kirkus Reviews)