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Was Saul real king of Israel? (Scholars debate history from Bible)
Fredericksburg News ^ | 1-4-03 | By RICHARD N. OSTLING

Posted on 01/11/2003 1:46:01 PM PST by vannrox

Was Saul real king of Israel?

January 4, 2003 1:06 am

By RICHARD N. OSTLING

Scholars debate history from Bible

AP RELIGION WRITER

TORONTO--Judging from a session at 2002's key gathering of Bible scholars, King Saul and King David aren't dead yet. So to speak.

A lengthy session on non-biblical evidence for the first kings of ancient Israel occurred during the convention of the Society of Biblical Literature, held in November.

These are often called years of "crisis" in Old Testament history. Traditionalists say the Old Testament reliably records ancient Israel's history or, more liberally, is substantially historical, though with problems and mistakes.

These and even more liberal views are challenged by "minimalists," who regard the Hebrew Scriptures as fictional propaganda that boosted Jewish nationalism after the Exile in Babylon (beginning in 597 B.C.) or long after that.

Minimalist Niels Peter Lemche of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, admits something called Israel did exist centuries before the Exile. It's nearly impossible to argue otherwise, since a military attack upon "Israel" was cited around 1210 B.C. in an Egyptian inscription.

But, Lemche continues, we can't be sure "the real history" of that Israel "has much--if anything--to do with the history of the Israel" depicted in the Old Testament.

Much debate focuses on Israel's first three kings, given these traditional dates of rule: Saul (1034 B.C. or earlier to 1012 B.C.), David (1012 B.C. to 972 B.C.) and Solomon (972 B.C to 932 B.C). Others say dates are uncertain but the three reigned around 1000 B.C.

No strong conservative was included on the Toronto program. But it was notable that Diana Edelman, from a minimalist hotbed, the University of Sheffield, England, told the scholars that Saul was "not merely a fictional character" but an actual figure in history.

Not that Edelman buys the full biblical account in 1 Samuel. Rather, she thinks literary analysis shows there are some truly ancient strands of Saul material mingled with the many unreliable stories. Due to the "meager" record, she believes, one can concoct "a number of conflicting histories of Saul."

As for Saul's successor David, Ryan Byrne of the University of Maryland said skeptics make a big mistake thinking of David's kingdom in modern-day terms as an advanced, centralized state. In reality, "most archaic states were quite small." For instance, the Bible says there was only one scribe in David's retinue.

It's true that archaeologists haven't found great material remains from the time of David, but it's a "blunder" to expect these when the Bible itself "makes modest building claims for David," Byrne said.

And if we "curtail our expectations" on the material culture that might have been left behind, he said, there's no big conflict between the archaeological record and the biblical account of David.

Next, Walter Aufrecht of the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, dismissed as "bogus" the arguments biblical leftists raise against the most important David inscription of recent times.

In 1993, Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran reported an inscription at the site of ancient Dan that he said reads "House of David," indicating a kingly line.

Readings are not open and shut because Hebrew used no vowels, and some skeptics proposed other translations. However, Aufrecht argued that the relevant experts are not Bible theorists or historians but epigraphers (specialists in deciphering ancient inscriptions), including many experts in his audience, and they mostly back Biran.

Finally, Avraham Faust of Israel's Bar-Ilan University offered a circumstantial case from southern Samaria for the biblical setting. He said that in the late 11th century B.C., many rural villages were abandoned, indicating concentration in central towns and formation of a more centralized state.

"These changes did not just happen," he argued. Some "agent" was involved. Archaeology doesn't give that agent's name but "in general lines" the archaeology supports the Bible, he said.


Copyright 2001 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.


TOPICS: Canada; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Israel; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bible; canada; change; debate; god; godsgravesglyphs; history; israel; jesus; letshavejerusalem; past; saul
Interesting.
1 posted on 01/11/2003 1:46:02 PM PST by vannrox
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

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3 posted on 01/11/2003 1:49:16 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: vannrox
The Bible is the unerring, infallible Word of God. Everything in it is true. It says that Saul was King of Israel.
Case closed.
4 posted on 01/11/2003 1:49:28 PM PST by Commander8
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To: Commander8
The Bible is the unerring, infallible Word of God. Everything in it is true. It says that Saul was King of Israel. Case closed.

Um thats the mentality of the suicide bombers. Never close your mind to all reason.

5 posted on 01/11/2003 1:53:17 PM PST by weikel
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: weikel
Oh, but I like having a closed mind, if I were open minded my brains would fall out and I'd become empty headed.
7 posted on 01/11/2003 2:03:26 PM PST by Commander8
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To: weikel
The Bible IN THE ORIGINAL HEBREW is the unerring, infallible Word of God. Everything in it is true. It says that Saul was King of Israel. Case closed.

Would that be a more accurate a statement?

8 posted on 01/11/2003 2:03:29 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: Motherbear
Sure
9 posted on 01/11/2003 2:03:59 PM PST by weikel (You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into in the 1st place)
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To: weikel
Never close your mind to all reason.

You mean to keep an open mind like and Eve did when Satan deceived her and now we're all cursed because of disobedience?

10 posted on 01/11/2003 2:08:00 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: sirchtruth
If God actually wrote it I happen to think its like every other book and written by people. You raise a good point thats its been mistranslated and doctored at some points in history. Plus books were arbritrarily excluded etc. The arguement that the Bible is all true because its the word of god and its the word of god because the Bible says so is circular logic though. I think the historical information in the Bible is mostly accurate as Archaeology has confirmed. Its hard to believe that the Old and New Testaments were written by the same God and I for one don't believe god changes his mind.
11 posted on 01/11/2003 2:12:15 PM PST by weikel
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To: Commander8
Well there is the corrolary( as I have told some liberals who try to argue with me in an illogical manner) don't keep a mind so open that your brain falls out.
12 posted on 01/11/2003 2:13:28 PM PST by weikel
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To: weikel
The bible is wholly true, I never said it wasn't. It is the Inspired word of God. You can argue only insignificant points about validity, and 99% of that is grammatical error.

The is WAY TOO MUCH historical and verifiable evidence to think any different.

God inspired men to write the Old and New testaments and all of it is true.

13 posted on 01/11/2003 2:22:16 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: sirchtruth
Well do you really want all the laws of Leviticus( stoning for taking the lords name in vain for example) codified into law?
14 posted on 01/11/2003 2:31:29 PM PST by weikel
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To: weikel
Hi Weikel,

Sorry that this is going to be a hit and run post, but my internet connection is down at home and I was just taking a quick look (i.e., 'feeding my fix') at the freerepublic posts before I took off from work.

If the Bible was under the control of man - then what you say is absolutely reasonable. Who can be sure what is correctly translated after 2000 to 3000 years. But although flesh may fade away - the Word of the Lord last forever.

1 Peter 1
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

And certainly read and ponder Psalm 119. God is not impotent, nor sitting disinterested on some throne a gazzillion miles away. He is in control, and He will guard His Word.

15 posted on 01/11/2003 2:42:16 PM PST by El Cid
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To: weikel
Well do you really want all the laws of Leviticus( stoning for taking the lords name in vain for example) codified into law?

What does that have to do with whether or not Saul existed or the bible is true?

What I would like to see is people accepting the loving Grace of Jesus making him Lord of their lives.

16 posted on 01/11/2003 2:44:33 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: weikel
Take His Word on it....the Old and New Testaments are written by the same God. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament...and both show that God is loving, just, merciful and always keeps His Promises.
17 posted on 01/11/2003 2:44:57 PM PST by stars & stripes forever
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To: vannrox
I wish these guys would remember that lack of evidence does not constitute proof of non-existence.
Until recently they didn't think Troy was a real city.
18 posted on 01/11/2003 2:50:17 PM PST by Darksheare ("I wish the locals would stop getting me mad. I'm running out of places to hide bodies." -Vlad)
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: vannrox
Vann,

The problem with modern archaeology and conflicts with Biblical history have more to do with the assumptions of early Egyptologists than with lack of archaeological evidence for King Saul and David. Modern archaeologists are looking in the right place but in the WRONG TIME.

King Saul, Jonathon, David, and the events depicted in the Bible are also recounted in the archaeogical record IF one looks with an understanding of the basic error made very early in Egyptology. That error was to equate Ramses the Great, Ramses II, with the pharoah of the Exodus. This error displaced Biblical and Egyptian synchronicity a couple of hundred years out of sync. It would be akin to looking for US vs. Soviet events among the records of the Revolutionary War.

The Amarna letters are a vast library of clay tablets that were written to Pharoah reporting on events on the Northern frontier of Egypt. Some of these letters from ambassadors and allied rulers describe the very same events the Bible reports including the rebelling of David, the slaying of Jonathon, the death of Saul, using contemporary appelations for these persons. The evidence of the Amarna letters has been dismissed by orthodox archaeologists because they DO NOT FIT THE ACCEPTED EGYPTIAN TIME LINE that was established by that original error.

Have you read David Rohl's excllent work "Pharoahs and Kings"? I highly recommend it. He lays out an alternative Egyptian timeline, documenting his evidence, that more accurately fits OTHER non-bibilical events, including records of solar and lunar eclipses, Pharoanic records, and dynastic histories, than does the accepted "orthodox" timeline based on the Ramses II/Moses connection. Rohl's timeline places the Kingdoms of Israel in the era where Egyptian hegemony was at its weakest: the time when Pharoah Ahkenaten (Born Amenhotep) was leading a religious revolution against the old gods declaring the ascendency of the god Aten (Sol) and ending shortly after the death of the boy Pharoah Tutankhenamen (born Tutankhenaten).

Ahkenaten's religious revolution resulted in chaos and unrest in Egypt. A power vacuum developed on Egypt's frontiers as political and military attention was turned inward. This was paralled by similar problems in Babylon, the other super-power of the era, and their attention also turned away from the Levant. Only in this hiatus period where the two ancient "big bullies" were otherwise occupied could the nation of Israel rise up to any semblence of prominence without being slapped down by one of the contending empires.

Once we accept this new synchronicity, examining the Amarna letters reveals many Biblical personages BY NAME and the events described are found to be the same events recounted in the Bible from another viewpoint!

20 posted on 01/11/2003 3:19:21 PM PST by Swordmaker
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To: Swordmaker
Thanks...a really interesting comment. I will have to check out that book.
21 posted on 01/11/2003 4:19:32 PM PST by vannrox (The Preamble - without it, our Bill of Rights is meaningless!)
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To: Van Jenerette
...for next weeks class.
22 posted on 01/11/2003 4:32:11 PM PST by Van Jenerette
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: weikel
Um thats the mentality of the suicide bombers. Never close your mind to all reason.

Um. Sorry, but that is NOT the "mentality" of the suicide bombers, who have -- in most cases -- probably never even READ the Qur'an.

Besides, unswerving faith in the Truth (i.e., the Bible) is NOT the same thing as unswerving faith in Error (e.g., the Qur'an, the Upanishads, the Talmud, etc).

Perhaps you are a humanist, who has (let me guess) unswerving faith in your own rational capabilities? (Very reassuring. NOT.)

24 posted on 01/11/2003 5:37:47 PM PST by BenR2
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: MySteadySystematicDecline
Be careful about dismissing grammatical and syntactical errors as insignificant.

Good points you make. I was referring more to misspellings and things that do not change meanings.

27 posted on 01/12/2003 6:05:19 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: MySteadySystematicDecline
The more advanced the language, the harder it is to translate into if it's a natural language.

Some say that reading the Koran in translation implies missing some percentage of the meaning. A large percentage. Such a large percentage that the book seems trite and approaches stupid. Some say the Koran is quite a piece of work in Arabic.

28 posted on 01/12/2003 6:18:59 PM PST by RightWhale
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To: MySteadySystematicDecline
I understand, I have met many Christians who dismiss the difference between thou shalt not kill and thou shalt not murder as trivial and semantical.

I agree, it is very distinctive. You just can not usually take ONE verse alone and apply it to any meaning you choose....and I would go further in saying not only should you look at things metaphorically, but literal in the same context.

Example: When Jesus says, He will rebuild the Temple in three days and all just laugh at him. We know he his referring to the resurrection. However, since he is God could he just as well rebuild a temple in three days?

I find this fascinating because the context is true in both cases.

30 posted on 01/13/2003 6:02:20 AM PST by sirchtruth
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31 posted on 08/22/2013 3:37:53 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's no coincidence that some "conservatives" echo the hard left.)
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