The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel : Invited Lectures Delivered at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Detroit, October 2005

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Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, ancient Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible over the question of the relevance of the biblical account for reconstructing early Israel’s history have created the need for a balanced articulation of the issues and their prospective resolutions. This book brings together for the first time and under one cover, a currently emerging “centrist” paradigm as articulated by two leading figures in the fields of early Israelite archaeology and history. Although Finkelstein and Mazar advocate distinct views of early Israel’s history, they nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and the ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for Iron Age Israel. The results of their research are featured in accessible, parallel syntheses of the historical reconstruction of early Israel that facilitate comparison and contrast of their respective interpretations. The historical essays presented here are based on invited lectures delivered in October of 2005 at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Detroit, Michigan.

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A Summary Assessment for Part 1
Archaeology and the Bible
On Archaeology Biblical History and Biblical Archaeology
Using Archaeology to Assess the BiblesTraditions about the Earliest Times
Summary Assessment for Part 2
Fact or Fiction?
The Patriarchs Exodus and Conquest Narrativesin Light of Archaeology
The Historical Origins of Collective Israel
History or Myth?
An Archaeological Perspective
On More Secure Ground? The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Iron II Period
A Summary Assessment for Part 5
Israel and Judah
Comments on Some Archaeological Issues
So What? Implications for Scholars and Communities
Bible and Archaeology

A Summary Assessment for Part 3
When and How Did the Israelites Emerge?
The Israelite Settlement
The Tenth Century The New Litmus Test for the Bibles Historical Relevance
A Summary Assessment for Part 4
Archaeologys Message
Further Reading
Index of Biblical Passages

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Israel Finkelstein is Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University where he holds the Jacob M. Alkow Chair in the Archaeology of Israel of the Bronze and Iron Ages. He is co-director of the Megiddo excavations and the co-author of David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition and The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origins of Its Sacred Texts (both from Free Press). He is also a recent laureate of the Dan David Prize (2005).

Amihai Mazar is Professor of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he holds the Eleazar Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel. His ongoing projects include a series of publications on the Tel Batash (Timnah) excavations and the Beth Shean Valley Archaeological Project. He is the author of Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (Anchor Bible Reference).

Brian Schmidt is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient West Asian Cultures at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Israel’s Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition (J.C.B. Mohr/Eisenbrauns).

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