Is the Entire Bible One Long Collection of Historical Fiction?

A sorcerer and his magic stick (wand):

How Did Moses Part the Red Sea? - WSJ

Think about this: Scientists have proven that the Creation and Great Flood stories in Genesis are fiction. Archaeologists are nearly unanimous in their belief that the Exodus, the Forty Years in the Sinai, and the Conquest of Canaan are fiction. In addition, modern historians and archaeologists are skeptical of the existence of the biblical kings David and Solomon, who the Bible claims ruled over a vast Israelite empire and built a magnificent temple (the remains of which has never been found).

And although historians believe that later kings of Israel and Judah are historical, we know that some of the stories told about these kings in the Bible are fictional. Hezekiah (and tricks performed by his god, Yahweh), did not defeat the Assyrians who had laid siege to Jerusalem as the Bible claims. Hezekiah paid a huge tribute to finally get the Assyrians to leave.

With all seemingly lost, the prophet Isaiah gave his reply to Sennacherib: Thus says the Lord to the king of Assyria: he shall not enter this city. He shall not shoot an arrow there, nor advance a shield in it, nor shall he heap up a siege-ramp.

According to 2 Kings 19:35-37, this prophecy was speedily fulfilled when a plague smote the Assyrian army, destroying it and leaving Sennacherib to slink back to Nineveh to meet a well-deserved death at the hands of his own sons. Here, the plague imagery symbolizes the divine wrath that in the biblical view drove Sennacherib away.

In fact, the Assyrians lived on. Certainly Jerusalem’s fate hung in the balance. Then word reached Sennacherib that Babylon had again risen in revolt. He abandoned the siege [of Jerusalem]. Before he left, he extracted from Hezekiah a far greater tribute and gifts of overlordship not listed in the books of Kings, a tribute he listed in detail in his annals, and which was delivered in full directly to Nineveh over a period of years.

Therefore, much of the Old Testament is either pure fiction or historical fiction (fiction with a few facts sprinkled in).

What if the stories about Jesus and the apostles, found in the Gospels and The Book of Acts, are just more of the same? What if the Bible is just one long collection of religious propaganda, filled with invented fables about temperamental deities, demi-gods, and magic working sorcerers (prophets and apostles)?

I wonder…

What Did The Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us About The Reality Of Ancient Israel

author: William G. Dever (prominent American archaeologist)

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
4035 Park East Court SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
Published 20016

ISBN 0 8028-2126-X

Thus a “patriarchal era,” an “exodus from Egypt,” and a panmilitary” conquest of Palestine,” as portrayed in the biblical narratives, have all now been shown to be essentially nonhistorical,”historicized fiction” at best. And the proof has come largely not from radical biblical scholars, attempting to undermine the historicity of the biblical texts. It has come from “secular” archaeologists, Israeli and American, who have no theological axes to grind. So apparently archaeology, even of the “new” variety, can write histories of ancient Israel, if not conventional ones. (Page 49)

Or take the Patriarchal narratives. After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible “historical figures.” Virtually the last archaeological word was written by me more than 20 years ago for a basic handbook of biblical studies, Israelite and Judean History. And, as we have seen, archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus has similarly been discarded as a fruitless pursuit. Indeed, the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage pursuit. Indeed, the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness. (Page 71)

Israel, we may be limited. We cannot make the Bible what it is not. Fortunately, the writers and editors of the Hebrew Bible, being far more sophisticated and better historians than some would have us believe, placed in their final edition another version, back-to-back with Joshua, the book of Judges. Many scholars, puzzled by the two often differing versions of events, have attempted to harmonize them, but the obvious contradictions are too great. Joshua, written largely to glorify a great hero of early Israel, credits him with sweeping rapid military victories over most of Canaan, vanquishing the whole land. Judges, however, begins its story with Joshua’s death in Judges. 1:1, then goes on to weave a 200-year-long tale of some 12 “judges,” or charismatic figures raised up by Yahweh to deal with the very threat that Joshua has disposed of, namely the continuing presence of Canaanites and of Canaanite culture. Then later in ch. 1 we find a “negative list” of the supposed “conquest,” cities that were not taken, some of them like Hazor the very same cities that Joshua was said to have utterly destroyed. To explain the continuous struggle and the chaos, the authors or editors of judges repeat the refrain: “In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges. 21:25). (Page 91)





End of post.

5 thoughts on “Is the Entire Bible One Long Collection of Historical Fiction?

  1. Biblical Archaeology
    A few quotes from the experts:

    “The Rise of Ancient Israel”
    A Symposium at the Smithsonian Institute
    October 26, 1991
    Biblical Archaeology Society 1992

    Herschel Schanks
    “Well archaeology is no longer a crutch in
    this classic sense of a conquest model. We
    simply can no longer posit a series of
    destructions in Canaan that can be rationally
    identified as the result of the Israelite
    conquest. Recently our archaeological methodology
    has improved, we can date levels more securely,
    and more sites have been excavated. As a result
    we can no longer say that archeology supports what
    we call the conquest model of Israel’s emergence
    in Canaan.”

    William G. Dever
    “The conquest model is not subscribed to by most
    biblical scholars today – certainly no one in the
    mainstream of scholarship – and that’s been true
    for some time. Moreover, there isn’t a single
    reputable professional archaeologist in the world
    who espouses the conquest model in Israel,
    Europe, or America. We don’t need to say anymore
    about the conquest model. That’s that.
    Not to be dogmatic about it or anything, but..

    “From Nomadism to Monarchy
    – Archaeological and Historical Aspects
    of Early Israel”
    Edited by Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman.
    Biblical Archaeology Society 1994

    Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman
    Introduction Page 13
    “Combination of archaeological and historical
    research demonstrates that the biblical account
    of the conquest and occupation of Canaan is
    entirely divorced from historical reality.
    Instead, it proves the correctness of the
    literary-critical approach to the biblical text.
    The biblical descriptions of the origin and early
    history of the people of Israel are not
    dissimilar from narratives on the origins of other
    peoples, which likewise do not withstand the test
    of historical criticism.”

    Nadav Na’aman Page 249
    “It is commonly accepted today that the majority
    of conquest stories in the book of Joshua are
    devoid of historical reality.”

    “What Did The Biblical Writers Know & When
    Did They Know It?”
    – William G. Dever
    William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

    Page 121
    “Now let us turn to the biblical data. If we look
    at the biblical texts describing the the origins
    of Israel, we see at once that the traditional
    account contained from Genesis to Joshua cannot
    be reconciled with the picture derived from
    archaeological investigation.The whole
    “Exodus-Conquest” cycle of stories must now be
    set aside as largely mythical, but in the proper
    sense of the word myth: perhaps “historical
    fiction” but tales told primarily to validate
    religious beliefs.”

    Page 282
    “Here we must confront squarely the essential
    dilemma of the modern reader of the Hebrew Bible.
    a dilemma that nearly all writers of today
    acknowledge. Does critical study of the bible
    undermine religious faith, perhaps more
    importantly diminish the value of the Bible as a
    basis for cultural and moral values? For the
    fundamentalists, or for many conservative
    Christians, Jews an others, the answer
    is: Yes. These folk must then reject modern
    literary other critical methods, although I have
    assumed here that such methods are to be taken for
    granted by any well-informed reader in the modern
    world. There is irony here. In North America and
    in places in Europe archaeology is accepted, even
    enthusiastically embraced, because it is
    mistakenly thought it will after all, “prove the
    Bible is true”.



    1. Thank you, WCB, for sharing these very important quotes. They are absolutely DEVASTATING for all but the most liberal of Christians (whose religious beliefs are subservient to their liberal social agenda and not tied in any serious way to the correct interpretation of ancient religious texts).


      1. “…the most liberal of Christians (whose religious beliefs are subservient to their liberal social agenda and not tied in any serious way to the correct interpretation of ancient religious texts).” – Gary

        Hmmm. Let’s see. What liberal Christian comes to mind that, in my opinion, fits that description. Who could it be? Ah, yes. Rauser. Oy vey!


  2. Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture
    William H. Stiebing Jr. and Susan N. Helft

    Third edition published 2018
    Routledge New York
    ISBN 978-1-138-68641-0

    So, many leading archaeologists and biblical scholars have abandoned the traditional views of an Israelite conquest (as described in the Book of
    Joshua). Instead, they have adopted theories that indicate that during the era that the Bible later claimed was the time of the Judges, Israel was created in the Palestinian hill country primarily out of groups of people who were already native to Canaan and/or the Transjordanian region
    (Finkelstein 1988; Dever 1992, 2003).
    Page 496-7

    The most widely contested biblical tradition is the Israelite account of the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of the land
    of Israel. Today, most would agree that the Israelites never experienced bondage and escape from Egypt the way it is described in the Pentateuch. On the one hand, the narrative of how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and to the borders of Canaan contains many discrepancies and elements of folklore. It includes the literary trope of the deserted infant destined for greatness, miraculous events, and a highly exaggerated number of participants—the number of people involved was almost certainly very much smaller than the 600,000 adult males, of a total population of about 2 million, given in Numbers 1 and 26. In addition, none of the particulars of the Exodus story have been confirmed by archaeology. The Exodus most likely
    occurred sometime in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1150 BCE). However, there are no Egyptian records that mention the Israelites inEgypt or any kind of conflict with them, and archaeologists have turned up no artifacts from this era anywhere in Sinai except for Egyptian ones at the mines at Serabit el-Khadim and Timnah or the Egyptian way stations along the Mediterranean coastal road. There are also no signs of Late Bronze Age occupation at Kadesh Barnea, Arad, Heshbon, or Dibon (assuming we have identified them correctly), sites that play important parts in the Exodus and Numbers accounts (Stiebing 1989: 66–78). Page 495



    1. WCB, did you also post on ‘Strange Notions’ recently re. this same topic? If so, thanks for sharing. This is very interesting.


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