Is archaeologist Israel Finkelstein trying to destroy the Bible?

Gary:  University of Tel Aviv archaeologist Israel Finkelstein has created quite a few enemies within conservative Christianity with the publication of his book, The Bible Unearthed.  In the book, Finkelstein outlines the position held by the majority of today’s secular archaeologists regarding the historicity (more correctly, the lack thereof) of much of the Old Testament:  the stories of the Patriarchs, the Exodus, the forty years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, and the great empires of David and Solomon are inventions, fables, of clever seventh century BCE priests in Jerusalem.  The archaeological evidence does not support the Biblical claims for these events.

However, just because the evidence does not support the historicity of the events mentioned above does not mean that there are no accurate historical accounts in the Old Testament.  Here is Finkelstein’s statement on this issue found on pages 343-344 of the book:

A word should be said here about the treatment of the biblical materials.  Some of our colleagues wonder how we can dismiss the historicity of one verse in the Bible (I Kings 9:15) and accept the historicity of others—relating to Ahab’s construction of the palace at Jezreel. (I Kings 21:1) and to the construction of the palace at Samaria by Omri (I Kings 16:24).  The answer has to do with methodology.  The biblical material cannot be treated as a monolithic block.  It does not require a take-all-or-leave-all attitude.  Two centuries of modern biblical scholarship have shown us that the biblical material must be evaluated chapter and sometimes verse by verse.  The Bible includes historical, non-historical, and quasi-historical materials, which sometimes appear very close to one another in the text.  The whole essence of biblical scholarship is to separate the historical parts from the rest of the text according to linguistic, literary, and extra-biblical historical considerations.  So, yes, one may doubt the historicity of one verse and accept the validity of another, especially in the case of Omri and Ahab, whose kingdom is described in contemporary Assyrian, Moabite, and Aramean texts.

 
Coloured illustration of a bearded prophet confronting a luxuriously dressed king and queen 
 
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel meet Elijah

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