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David and Solomon


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Israel Finkelstein is one of the world's foremost biblical archaeologists, the Chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, and the Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology. Neil Asher Silberman, a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine, is Director of Interpretation for the Ename Centre of Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium.


Biblical archaeologist Finkelstein (archaeology, Tel Aviv Univ.) and Silberman (director, Ename Ctr. of Public Archaeology and Heritage Preservation, Belgium) claimed in their 2001 book, The Bible Unearthed, that the traditional interpretation of the archaeological evidence of the Davidic and Solomonic period was wrong. Their new book expands on that thesis. Archaeological evidence, they argue, is not available for the construction of an elaborate temple at Jerusalem until centuries after the years during which David and Solomon lived. Further, they write, there is no evidence of a united monarchy at that time; in fact, much competition existed between Israel in the north and Judah in the South. They describe David as nothing more than a mountain bandit and Solomon as far less wealthy than the Bible states and prone to worshipping local deities. They note that the story of the slaying of the giant Philistine, Goliath, is told in conflicting forms in the Bible; it is not clear that the young David was responsible for this deed. Finkelstein and Silberman have written an excellent addition to the current literature on the historical meaning of the recent archaeological research for ancient Judaism. Recommended for all academic libraries.-James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A bold and provocative book, well researched, well written, and powerfully argued. It challenges many of the assumptions developed by the literal religious minds of the ages, opening traditional possibilities to new conclusions." -- John Shelby Spong, author of Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality
"A brutally honest assessment of what archaeology can and cannot tell us about the historical accuracy of the Bible, presented with both authority and panache." -- Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
" . . . an intellectual high-wire act. Their audacity and skill is admirable . . . The book's most stunning accomplishment is its skillful reconciliation of competing perspectives within the biblical text." -- Archaeology Magazine

Lacking clear archeological evidence or extrabiblical testimony, biblical scholars are often challenged in persuading a skeptical world that the Bible's characters really existed and that their stories are actual historical records. The task of separating myth from history can be a daunting one. Finkelstein and Silberman, both renowned archaeologists (Finkelstein chairs the archaeology department [at Tel Aviv University; Silberman is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine), take a different approach: integrating ancient heroic and warrior archetypes into the lives of the kings of Israel, thus synthesizing history and myth in support of the religious endeavor. The authors are careful to note that the absence of contemporary confirmation outside the Bible is no reason to believe that the characters did not actually exist. Rather, the biblical stories form the basis for a legend tradition in which the Davidic legacy gradually transforms "from a down-to-earth political program into the symbols of a transcendent religious faith that would spread throughout the world." Finkelstein and Silberman, who also had a winner with The Bible Unearthed, tell their story in a clear and easily understood manner, never boring but always challenging. Discovery Club main selection, BOMC, QPB and History book clubs alternate selection. (Feb. 8) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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