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The Bible Unearthed gives the latest scholarly views on the origins of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Israel. Who wrote the Pentateuch?

The Bible Unearthed

In the 17th century some scholars began to question that all of the Pentateuch was written by Moses. How could Moses write about his own death Deut. There were explanations of place names.

Evidences were still visible “to this day.

It was seen as the work of later writers. There were two or three versions of the same story. For unerthed, Genesis chapter one and two tell different creation stories. Scholars saw four major sources named J, E, D, and P. This theory was first articulated by Julius Wellhausen. J source uses the name Jehovah, from Judah.

E source uses the name Elohim, from Ephriam. D source the book of Deuteronomy. P source from the Priests.

Finkelstein and Silberman state, “In the last few decades scholarly opinion about the dates and authorship of these individual sources have varied wildly” p. Some scholars maximalists say that under the United Kingdom Biblical texts were first composed. David is seen in the characters of Genesis Bible Review February At the other end are scholars minimalists who say all Biblical texts were written by priests and scribes after the Babylonian Exile down to the Hellenistic period.

Finkelstein and Silberman conclude, “Yet all agree that the Pentateuch is not a single, seamless composition but a patchwork of different sources” p.

The Book of Deuteronomy is very different in terminology than the rest of the Pentateuch. Scholars say the Book of Unearthd was written at this time, finkelstwin then claimed to be a discovery. It inspired the reforms during unearrthed reign of Josiah in about BC. Chronicles favors the Davidic dynasty at Jerusalem while ignoring the northern kingdom of Israel. Finkelstein and Silberman posit that the Deuteronomistic History was mainly written during the time of king Josiah.

Much of their book is spent on trying to prove this point finkelstrin archaeological evidence.

IBSS – The Bible – The Bible Unearthed

On the archaeological evidence, Finkelstein and Silberman conclude, “By the end of the twentieth century, archaeology had shown that there were simply too many material correspondences between the finds in Israel and in the entire Near East and the world described in the Bible to suggest that the Bible was late and fanciful priestly literature, written with no historical basis at all.

But at the same time there were too many contradictions between archaeological finds and the Biblical narratives to suggest that the Bible provided a precise description of what actually occurred pp.

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Until the ‘s the Biblical events beginning with David were seen as reliable. The events before David like the exodus and conquest were not reliable. Now the United Kingdom is brought into question by archaeology. Albright, insisted that Genesis is historical. The French Dominican scholar Roland de Vaux stated, “if the historical faith of Israel is not founded in history, such faith is erroneous” p.

A parable conveys truth without being historical. The problems with the patriarchs are long life spans, and confusing genealogies. For example, Moses is the four generation descendant while Joshua is a 12th generation descendant from Jacob’s sons. Albright argued that personal names, marriage customs, and land laws reflect the 2nd millennium BC.

The search for the patriarchs was unsuccessful. The supposed “Amorite migration” did not happen. The laws and customs would also fit the 1st millennium BC just as well.

Anachronisms Anachronisms are out of place words or phrases. For example, a story from the 18th century AD would not talk about computers, atomic power, or airplanes because they were not invented yet. In Genesis there is the repeated use of camels. Camels were not widely used until after BC.

In the Joseph story there is a camel caravan carrying “gum, balm, and myrrh” which best fits the Arabian trade of the th centuries BC. Assyrian texts describe the use of camels in caravans in the 7th century. There is a large increase of camel bones in the archaeological record at this same time.

Gerar, a Philistine city is mentioned Gen. The Arameans, Jacob’s relatives, are not mentioned as an ethic group until BC. The Arameans did not become dominate until the 9th century BC. It is suggested that the stories of Jacob and Laban metaphorically express the stormy relationship between Aram and Israel.

The kingdom Edom did not exist before the late 8th century BC.

Edom became a serious rival of Israel only during the Assyrian period. Ammon and Moab were not nations at the time of Moses. The descendants of Ishmael Gen. Before this time they lived beyond Israel’s interest. Tema and Sheba are mentioned in Assyrian unarthed between th centuries BC. The war in Genesis 14 seems only to fit the geography of the 7th century BC.

En-mishpat or Kadesh most likely refers to Kadesh-barnea, a great uneafthed which was mainly occupied in the 7th and early 6th century.

The capitals of the Assyrian empire are mentioned, Nineveh 7th century and Calah its predecessor Gen. Haran was prosperous during the Neo-Assyrian period. There is also a town called Ur. The German Biblical scholar Martin Noth posits that “the uneartued were originally quite separate regional ancestors, who were eventually brought together in a single genealogy in an effort to create a united history” p.

The stories of Abraham center around Hebron. Isaac centers around Beersheba, and Jacob around the northern unearthwd country.


Finkelstein and Silberman posit that Judah was a small isolated kingdom until the Assyrians conquered Israel in BC. Many refugees flooded into Judah which then developed complex state institutions. There was a need to unite all the Israelites together. Thus a united history was created with uneadthed united kingdom.

The patriarchal narratives attempt to redefine the unity of Israel. Abraham builds altars at Shechem and Bethel, the two most important cult centers of the northern kingdom, and Hebron in the south. Abraham functions as a unifier of both northern and southern traditions p. Finkelstein and Silberman claim finelstein all of these anachronisms indicate that Genesis was composed uneqrthed the th century BC.

It should be noted that scholars are still debating this. Chapter 2 – Did the Exodus Happen? The Egyptian historian Manetho in the third century BC suggested that Hyksos who were driven out of Egypt, founded the city of Jerusalem and built a temple there. This happened about BC. Egyptologist Donald Redford thinks the Exodus echoes the Hyksos expulsion Let me be so bold as to insert my opinion. I think the story of the Exodus is very loosely based on the Egyptian story about the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt.

I think Moses may be loosely based on some of the stories about Ah-mose. For Ah-mose it took three years, for Moses 38 years of wandering. This story also explains why Moses married an Ethiopian. The period of the Judges is reflected in the Amarna Letters. The Hapiru who are mentioned in the letters is probably a derogatory label from which the word Hebrew originated. They were not an ethnic group. The local Hapiru formed a confederacy of tribes called Israel. For more details see The Archaeological Evidence for the Exodus.

Back to the book. The first pharaoh to be named Ramses was in BC. In the Sinai there has not been found one shred of evidence that the Israelites camped there. If they wandered for 40 years there should be some evidence, yet nothing has been found.

Israel is said to have camped at Kadesh-barnea, but when this site was excavated there was no evidence of any occupation in the Late Bronze Age.

The children of Israel also stopped at Ezion-geber on the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, but finkflstein is no Late Bronze Age occupation.

The king of Arad finklestein mentioned, but no Late Bronze Age occupation was found. Egyptologist Donald Redford suggests that the geographical details of the Exodus come from the 7th century BC. The Saite Dynasty fits the background of the Exodus story. A large Jewish community was present in the delta by the early 6th century BC Jeremiah Migdol was very important in the 7th century BC.