Skip to comments.Old Testament Dispute Continues
Posted on 08/05/2006 12:35:23 PM PDT by blam
Old Testament dispute continues
Was King David Judaism's King Arthur?
By Richard N. Ostling
AP Religion Writer
AP Photo/Biblical Archaeology Review by Thomas E. Levy American archaeologist/educator Nelson Glueck's suggestions that a gate lay buried at the entrance to the Iron Age fortress of Khirbat en-Nahas were recently realized when archaeologists discovered a four-chamber gate (only two have been excavated). Radiocarbon dating fixed the date of its construction to the 10th century.
Some scholars are busily debunking the Bible's account of the great King David, asking: Was he really all that great? Was he largely legendary, Judaism's version of Britain's legendary King Arthur or totally fictional?
These matters are crucial not only for Jews but for Christians, since Jesus' biblical identity as the messiah stems from David's family line.
Skepticism about the Hebrew Bible's history was promoted to popular audiences in "The Bible Unearthed" (2001) by Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. Their most recent book focuses on "David and Solomon" (Free Press).
Though some scholars claimed David never existed, in 1993 archaeologists discovered a stone inscription from 835 B.C. that mentions "the house of David." The authors say that established the existence of a dynastic founder named David and that shortly after his 10th-century era a line of kings "traced their legitimacy back to David."
However, Finkelstein considers the Bible seriously distorted propaganda. He treats David as a minor bandit chieftain and Jerusalem as a hamlet, not an imperial capital. Supposedly, biblical authors concocted the grander David centuries afterward. The book also implies that his successor, Solomon, didn't build the Temple.
Finkelstein notes that archaeologists haven't found monumental buildings from David's era in Jerusalem. He dismisses links of David and Solomon with buildings unearthed at biblical Megiddo and Hazor. Ordinary readers might not grasp that this depends upon a disputed "low chronology" which would shift dates a century, just after these kings.
In the July-August issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Michael Coogan of Stonehill College, editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, contends that Finkelstein and Silberman "move from the hypothetical to the improbable to the absurd."
Finkelstein's revised chronology is "not accepted by the majority of archaeologists and biblical scholars," Coogan asserts, citing four scholarly anthologies from the past three years.
Coogan also thinks "David and Solomon" downplays the significance of the Amarna tablets, which include correspondence to Egypt's pharaoh from a 14th-century Jerusalem king. Even if archaeological remains at Jerusalem are lacking, he writes, the tablets indicate that long before David, Jerusalem was the region's chief city-state, with a court and sophisticated scribes.
Discovery of ancient remains in Jerusalem is problematic due to the repeated reconstruction throughout the centuries and the modern inaccessibility of many sites.
Nonetheless, perhaps David's palace has been found. So claims Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar. Finkelstein denies this, claiming Mazar inaccurately dated pottery from the site. "Here, for the time being, matters rest," summarizes Hillel Halkin in the July-August Commentary magazine.
Jerusalem feuds aside, skepticism about David seems to be countered by recent discoveries in the biblical land of Edom (present-day southwest Jordan), also described in Biblical Archaeology Review by field experts Thomas Levy and Mohammad Najjar. Levy is a University of California, San Diego, archaeologist and Najjar directs excavations for Jordan's Department of Antiquities.
According to the Hebrew Bible, Edom had kings before Israel (Genesis 36:31), barred Moses' wandering Israelites (Numbers 20:14-21) and later warred with King David (2 Samuel 8:13-14, 1 Kings 11:15-16).
Until now, many scholars have said that's all bogus because there was no archaeological evidence for a state in Edom until long after David's day. Finkelstein and Silberman typified such skepticism in "Bible Unearthed," which said Edom achieved kingship and statehood only in the seventh century B.C.
But Levy and Najjar say lack of evidence is never conclusive, and in this case previous archaeologists dug in the wrong place. They've now excavated a major fortress that to their surprise is dated by radiocarbon tests in David's era. An adjacent copper mill goes back another one to two centuries, closer to Moses' time.
Biblical references have gained "new plausibility," they conclude.
On the Net: Biblical Archaeology Review: www.bib-arch.org; Commentary: www.commentarymagazine.com
Gods Word needs no human "plausibility".
A person believes it - or not.
I believe, and will not argue the point..those that don't can go to..well, we know where they go.
While this is true, G-d has always been willing to give signs - including Jesus' miracles.
G-d does not want to make it impossible to disbelieve, but He appears to be willing to "help us in our unbelief."
Sadly this "scholarship" seems motivated by an effort to dismantle or dishonor Jewish people and traditions.
Interesting statement ArGee. I see the truth in it, but I don't know why.
Maybe, belief in God with all it implies, is much harder in this age of science.
Regarding the Tree of Knowledge My Husband said "Man is DOOMED to Learn". The more man knows, the less he will believe.
I think it boils down to Ego. The Scholars" of today no longer have original ideas..they are politically motivated to prove thousands of years of faith wrong.
Will they be asking for ice water in hell?
And, yet, G-d seems willing to deal with us on an intellectual level. In Isaiah G-d says, "Come, let us reason together." When the Apostle Thomas made his famous challenge Jesus met him and allowed him to touch the wounds before declaring that faith without seeing is a blessed faith. When Paul wrote of the Resurrection he went to some trouble to list those who had seen the Resurrected Messiah so those to whom he was writing could check out the story if they wanted to. And Luke records Paul's preaching with phrases like, "Thus, with many proofs, he showed them..."
Science reveals truth. All truth is G-d's truth. The issue isn't what is revealed, but man's desire to interpret that truth in a way that glorifies himself at the expense of G-d.
There are many more scriptures in which God Compels us to THINK, and many more that deals with an ego that believes his thoughts are a matter for glorifying the "self".
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Wow...I just got that issue today...first time that's happened, that I bought a journal on the same day you listed an article from it...
Heh heh...Did Joshua Destroy Canaanite Hatzor?The discovery of several cuneiform tablets at the 800-dunam (200-acre) site over the years points to the likelihood that Hatzor will produce the first ancient archive, other than the Dead Sea Scrolls, ever to be found in the country. Such an archive would shed light on the Canaanite city which, the Bible tells us, Joshua "burnt with fire" (Joshua 11:11) after its king led a federation of cities that battled against the Israelite incursion. More than that, it would shed light on a historically crucial period we know little about.
Bridges for Peace
Ben-Tor has yet to find the archive, but he appears to be getting closer. Until this year, he hoped there might be two archives - one in each of the two palaces identified on the acropolis atop the tel. The late Prof. Yigael Yadin had been the first to identify a palace during his landmark dig at Hatzor in the 1950s, dating it to the 18th century BC or Middle Bronze (MB) period. That [fit] perfectly with the date of the royal archive in Mari, Syria, in which cuneiform messages relating to MB Hatzor were found - the first hint of a possible archive at Hatzor.
However, when Ben-Tor began his excavations in 1990 he came upon a palace near Yadin's which he dated, by means of its ceramics, to a few hundred years later - that is, to the last half of the second millennium or Late Bronze (LB) period. The generally accepted dating of the biblical destruction of Hatzor by Joshua roughly coincides with the date of this LB palace's destruction, the 14th or 13th centuries BCE. This summer, as he probed the area of the palaces, Ben-Tor began to have an uneasy feeling that Yadin, his former teacher, had made a wrong dating and that there was in fact only one palace - his own LB structure.
Somewhere in the mix of the Empires of Babylon, Media-Persia, Phoenecia, the Greeks, the Seleucids, the Assyrians and all of the rest....
Some small Clans, Tribes, Families, whatever somehow made a difference because of their peculiar ways... and thus somehow impacted the course of world history for millenia.
An impact that should in no way be unrecognized or unacknowledged by thinking persons.
We are not doomed because we learn things.
Au contraire, we are all partaking of that fruit, of that tree, and in the end, knowledge shall increase, even as we do not live longer than a day.
That is what it is all about.
Learning, and knowledge.
The knowledge of Good and Evil.
Genesis is the key to all knowledge.
The Commandments to Man in that book, transcend all else.
If you look carefully, with an open mind, you will probably see that is what it is about.
That is in part why Jesus was executed. He so pissed of the religious authorities of his day.
When the leaders queried him concerning the letter of the law concerning the rules of Divorce, he cut them to the quick with his clear rebuke concerning the true meaning of the Law.
Genesis, and the commandments to Adam (and all of us)concerning marriage, divorce, and in reality so much more...(as I said) cut them to the quick.
He undermined their place in God's hierarchy, and they targeted him for that offense.
It is all there in that silly little book that our children are not allowed to learn about because a$$holes are running our public education system.
They are so completely clueless concerning just how ignorant they sound when they make such comments.
Most of the Troops that I know do double takes when they hear such nonsense.
I blame the Schools and the MSM for such garbage. It is clearly an indictment of their complete and utter failure to do what they ostensibly set out to do.
Educate and inform.
It is a shame, that is not happening in our culture.
Posterity is in for a whole heap of trouble.
i have no dog in the fight over the religious issues many focus on, but time and time again I have found the Old Testament to be an excellent historical source. I don't doubt there is some embellishment on certain topics, which is an entirely smaller scale of distortion than some want to make out.