Outline of Bible-related topics
The historicity of the
Bible is the question of the Bible's
"acceptability as a history," in the words of Thomas L. Thompson, a
scholar who has written widely on this topic as it relates to the Old
Testament. This can be extended to the question of the Christian
New Testament as an accurate record of the historical Jesus and the
Many fields of study span the
Bible and history; such fields range
from archeology and astronomy to linguistics and comparative
literature. Scholars also examine the historical context of Bible
passages, the importance ascribed to events by the authors, and the
contrast between the descriptions of these events and other historical
Archaeological discoveries since the 19th century are open to
interpretation, but broadly speaking they lend support to few of the
Old Testament's historical narratives and offer evidence to challenge
1 Materials and methods
1.1 Manuscripts and canons
1.2 Writing and reading history
2 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
2.2.1 Genesis creation narrative
2.2.2 The Patriarchs
2.3 Deuteronomistic history
2.3.1 The "Conquest Narrative" in
Joshua and Judges
2.3.2 Books of Samuel
2.3.3 United Monarchy
3 New Testament
3.1 Historicity of Jesus
3.1.1 Historicity of the Gospels
3.1.2 Historicity of Acts
4 Schools of archaeological and historical thought
4.1 Overview of academic views
4.2 Maximalist–minimalist dichotomy
4.3 Biblical minimalism
4.4 Biblical maximalism
4.5 Decreasing conflict
5 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Materials and methods
Manuscripts and canons
Bible exists in multiple manuscripts, none of them an autograph,
and multiple canons, which do not completely agree on which books have
sufficient authority to be included or their order (see Books of the
Bible). The early discussions about the exclusion or integration of
various apocrypha involve an early idea about the historicity of the
Ionian Enlightenment influenced early patrons like Justin
Tertullian – both saw the biblical texts as being
different to (and having more historicity than) the myths of other
religions. Augustine was aware of the difference between science and
scripture and defended the historicity of the biblical texts e.g.
against claims of Faustus of Mileve.
Historians hold that the
Bible should not be treated differently from
other historical (or literary) sources from the ancient world. One may
compare doubts about the historicity of e.g. Herodotus; the
consequence of these discussions is not that we shall have to stop
using ancient sources for historical reconstruction, but that we need
to be aware of the problems involved when doing so.
Very few texts survive directly from antiquity: most have been copied
– some, many times. To determine the accuracy of a copied
manuscript, textual critics examine the way the transcripts have
passed through history to their extant forms. The higher the
consistency of the earliest texts, the greater their textual
reliability, and the less chance that the content has been changed
over the years. Multiple copies may also be grouped into text types
New Testament text types), with some types judged closer to the
hypothetical original than others. Differences often extend beyond
minor variations and may involve, for instance, interpolation of
passages central to issues of historicity and doctrine, such as the
ending of Mark 16.
Writing and reading history
W.F. Albright, the doyen of biblical archaeology, in 1957
The meaning of the term "history" is itself dependent on social and
historical context. Paula McNutt, for instance, notes that the Old
Testament narratives "do not record 'history' in the sense that
history is understood in the twentieth century ... The past, for
biblical writers as well as for twentieth-century readers of the
Bible, has meaning only when it is considered in light of the present,
and perhaps an idealized future."
Even from the earliest times, there was an awareness that parts of the
scriptures could not be interpreted as a strictly consistent sequence
of events. The
Talmud cites a dictum ascribed to the third-century
Abba Arika that "there is no chronological order in the
Torah". Examples were often presented and discussed in later
Jewish exegesis with, according to Abraham
Joshua Heschel, an ongoing
discourse between those who would follow the views of Rabbi Ishmael
Torah speaks in human language", compared to the more
mystical approach of
Rabbi Akiva that any such deviations should
signpost some deeper order or purpose, to be divined.
During the modern era, the focus of Biblical history has also
diversified. The project of biblical archaeology associated with W.F.
Albright, which sought to validate the historicity of the events
narrated in the
Bible through the ancient texts and material remains
of the Near East, has a more specific focus compared to the more
expansive view of history described by archaeologist William Dever. In
discussing the role of his discipline in interpreting the biblical
record, Dever has pointed to multiple histories within the Bible,
including the history of theology (the relationship between God and
believers), political history (usually the account of "Great Men"),
narrative history (the chronology of events), intellectual history
(ideas and their development, context and evolution), socio-cultural
history (institutions, including their social underpinnings in family,
clan, tribe and social class and the state), cultural history (overall
cultural evolution, demography, socio-economic and political structure
and ethnicity), technological history (the techniques by which humans
adapt to, exploit and make use of the resources of their environment),
natural history (how humans discover and adapt to the ecological facts
of their natural environment), and material history (artifacts as
correlates of changes in human behaviour).
A special challenge for assessing the historicity of the
sharply differing perspectives on the relationship between narrative
history and theological meaning. Supporters of biblical literalism
Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to
spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in
the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific
hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the
teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood." But prominent
scholars have expressed diametrically opposing views: "[T]he stories
about the promise given to the patriarchs in Genesis are not
historical, nor do they intend to be historical; they are rather
historically determined expressions about Israel and Israel's
relationship to its God, given in forms legitimate to their time, and
their truth lies not in their facticity, nor in the historicity, but
their ability to express the reality that Israel experienced."
Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Main article: Authorship of the Bible
A central pillar of the Bible's historical authority was the tradition
that it had been composed by the principal actors or eyewitnesses to
the events described – the
Pentateuch was the work of Moses,
Joshua was by Joshua, and so on. But the
Protestant Reformation had
brought the actual texts to a much wider audience, which combined with
the growing climate of intellectual ferment in the 17th century that
was the start of the
Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment threw a harsh sceptical
spotlight on these traditional claims. In Protestant England the
Thomas Hobbes in his major work Leviathan (1651) denied
Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and identified Joshua, Judges,
Samuel, Kings and Chronicles as having been written long after the
events they purported to describe. His conclusions rested on internal
textual evidence, but in an argument that resonates with modern
debates, he noted: "Who were the original writers of the several Books
of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient
testimony of other History, which is the only proof of matter of
Title page of Simon's Critical history, 1682.
The Jewish philosopher and pantheist
Baruch Spinoza echoed Hobbes's
doubts about the provenance of the historical books in his A
Theologico-Political Treatise (published in 1670), and elaborated
on the suggestion that the final redaction of these texts was
post-exilic under the auspices of
Ezra (Chapter IX). He had earlier
been effectively excommunicated by the rabbinical council of Amsterdam
for his perceived heresies. The French priest Richard Simon brought
these critical perspectives to the
Catholic tradition in 1678,
observing "the most part of the Holy Scriptures that are come to us,
are but Abridgments and as Summaries of ancient Acts which were kept
in the Registries of the Hebrews," in what was probably the first work
of biblical textual criticism in the modern sense.
In response Jean Astruc, applying source criticism methods common in
the analysis of classical secular texts to the Pentateuch, believed he
could detect four different manuscript traditions, which he claimed
Moses himself had redacted. (p. 62–64) His 1753 book
initiated the school known as higher criticism that culminated in
Julius Wellhausen formalising the documentary hypothesis in the
1870s, which identifies these narratives as the Jahwist, Elohist,
Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source. While versions of the
Documentary Hypothesis vary in the order in which they were composed,
the circumstances of their composition, and the date of their
redaction(s), their shared terminology continues to provide the
framework for modern theories on the composite nature and origins of
By the end of the 19th century the scholarly consensus was that the
Pentateuch was the work of many authors writing from 1000 BCE (the
time of David) to 500 BCE (the time of Ezra) and redacted c. 450, and
as a consequence whatever history it contained was more often
polemical than strictly factual – a conclusion reinforced by
the then fresh scientific refutations of what were at the time widely
classed as biblical mythologies.
Genesis creation narrative
The Garden of Eden: from history to mythology. By Lucas Cranach der
See also: Genesis creation narrative
There is a Christian tradition of criticism of the creation narratives
in Genesis dating back to at least St
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo (354–430),
and Jewish tradition has also maintained a critical thread in its
approach to biblical primeval history. The influential medieval
Maimonides maintained a skeptical ambiguity towards
creation ex nihilo and considered the stories about
Adam more as
"philosophical anthropology, rather than as historical stories whose
protagonist is the 'first man'." Greek philosophers Aristotle,
Critolaus and Proclus held that the world was eternal. Such
interpretations are inconsistent with what was after the Protestant
Reformation to be "commonly perceived in evangelicalism as traditional
views of Genesis".[e]
The publication of James Hutton's Theory of the Earth in 1788 was an
important development in the scientific revolution that would dethrone
Genesis as the ultimate authority on primeval earth and prehistory.
The first casualty was the Creation story itself, and by the early
19th century "no responsible scientist contended for the literal
credibility of the Mosaic account of creation." The battle between
uniformitarianism and catastrophism kept the Flood alive in the
emerging discipline, until
Adam Sedgwick, the president of the
Geological Society, publicly recanted his previous support in his 1831
We ought indeed to have paused before we first adopted the diluvian
theory, and referred all our old superficial gravel to the action of
the Mosaic Flood. For of man, and the works of his hands, we have not
yet found a single trace among the remnants of the former world
entombed in those deposits.
All of which left the "first man" and his putative descendants in the
awkward position of being stripped of all historical context, until
Charles Darwin naturalized the Garden of Eden with the publication of
On The Origin of Species
On The Origin of Species in 1859. Public acceptance of this scientific
revolution was, at the time, uneven, but has since grown
significantly. The mainstream scholarly community soon arrived at a
consensus, which holds today, that Genesis 1–11 is a highly
schematic literary work representing theology/symbolic mythology
rather than actual history or science.
In the following decades
Hermann Gunkel drew attention to the mythic
aspects of the Pentateuch, and Albrecht Alt,
Martin Noth and the
tradition history school argued that although its core traditions had
genuinely ancient roots, the narratives were fictional framing devices
and were not intended as history in the modern sense. Though doubts
have been cast on the historiographic reconstructions of this school
(particularly the notion of oral traditions as a primary ancient
source), much of its critique of biblical historicity found wide
acceptance. Gunkel's observation that
if, however, we consider figures like Abraham, Issac, and Jacob to be
actual persons with no original mythic foundations, that does not at
all mean that they are historical figures ... For even if, as may well
be assumed, there was once a man call 'Abraham,' everyone who knows
the history of legends is sure that the legend is in no position at
the distance of so many centuries to preserve a picture of the
personal piety of Abraham. The 'religion of Abraham' is, in reality,
the religion of the legend narrators which they attribute to
has in various forms become a commonplace of contemporary
In the United States the biblical archaeology movement, under the
influence of Albright, counterattacked, arguing that the broad outline
within the framing narratives was also true, so that while scholars
could not realistically expect to prove or disprove individual
episodes from the life of Abraham and the other patriarchs, these were
real individuals who could be placed in a context proven from the
archaeological record. But as more discoveries were made, and
anticipated finds failed to materialise, it became apparent that
archaeology did not in fact support the claims made by Albright and
his followers. Today, only a minority of scholars continue to work
within this framework, mainly for reasons of religious conviction.
William Dever stated in 1993 that
[Albright's] central theses have all been overturned, partly by
further advances in Biblical criticism, but mostly by the continuing
archaeological research of younger Americans and Israelis to whom he
himself gave encouragement and momentum ... The irony is that, in the
long run, it will have been the newer 'secular' archaeology that
contributed the most to Biblical studies, not 'Biblical
Main article: Deuteronomist
Many scholars believe that the 'Deuteronomistic History’ preserved
elements of ancient texts and oral tradition, including geo-political
and socio-economic realities and certain information about historical
figures and events. However, large portions of it are legendary and it
contains many anachronisms.
The "Conquest Narrative" in
Joshua and Judges
A major issue in the historicity debate was the narrative of the
Israelite conquest of Canaan, described in
Joshua and Judges. The
American Albright school asserted that the biblical narrative of
conquest would be affirmed by archaeological record; and indeed for
much of the 20th century archaeology appeared to support the biblical
narrative, including excavations at Beitin (identified as Bethel), Tel
ed-Duweir, (identified as Lachish), Hazor, and Jericho.
However, flaws in the conquest narrative appeared. The most
high-profile example was the "fall of Jericho", excavated by John
Garstang in the 1930s. Garstang originally announced that he had
found fallen walls dating to the time of the biblical Battle of
Jericho, but later revised the destruction to a much earlier
Kathleen Kenyon dated the destruction of the walled city
to the middle of the 16th century (c. 1550 BCE), too early to match
the usual dating of the Exodus to Pharaoh Ramses, on the basis of her
excavations in the early 1950s. The same conclusion, based on an
analysis of all the excavation findings, was reached by Piotr
Bienkowski. By the 1960s it had become clear that the
archaeological record did not, in fact, support the account of the
conquest given in Joshua: the cities which the
Bible records as having
been destroyed by the
Israelites were either uninhabited at the time,
or, if destroyed, were destroyed at widely different times, not in one
brief period. According to Israel Finkelstein, the consensus for
the conquest narrative was abandoned in the late 20th century.
In his view, the
Joshua conflates several independent battles
between disparate groups over the centuries, and artificially
attributes them to a single leader, Joshua. However, there are a
few cases where the biblical record is not contradicted by the
archaeological record. For example, stratum in Tel Hazor, found in a
destruction layer from around 1200 BCE, shows signs of
catastrophic fire, and cuneiform tablets found at the site refer to
monarchs named Ibni Addi, where Ibni may be the etymological origin of
Yavin (Jabin), the Canaanite leader referred to in the Hebrew
Bible. The city also show signs of having been a magnificent
Canaanite city prior to its destruction, with great temples and
opulent palaces, split into an upper acropolis, and lower city;
the town evidently had been a major Canaanite city. Finklestein
theorized that the destruction of Hazor was the result of civil
strife, attacks by the Sea Peoples, and/or a result of the general
collapse of civilization across the whole eastern Mediterranean in the
Late Bronze Age, rather than being caused by the Israelites.
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel are considered to be based on both historical and
legendary sources, primarily serving to fill the gap in Israelite
history after the events described in Deuteronomy. The battles
involving the destruction of the Canaanites are not supported by
archaeological record, and it is now widely believed that the
Israelites themselves originated as a sub-group of
Canaanites. The Books of Samuel exhibit too many
anachronisms to have been compiled in the 11th century BCE.[citation
needed]For example, there is mention of later armor (1 Samuel
17:4–7, 38–39; 25:13), use of camels (1 Samuel 30:17), and cavalry
(as distinct from chariotry) (1 Samuel 13:5, 2 Samuel 1:6), iron picks
and axes (as though they were common) (2 Samuel 12:31), sophisticated
siege techniques (2 Samuel 20:15). There is a gargantuan troop (2
Samuel 17:1), a battle with 20,000 casualties (2 Samuel 18:7), and a
reference to Kushite paramilitary and servants, clearly giving
evidence of a date in which
Kushites were common, after the 26th
Dynasty of Egypt, the period of the last quarter of the 8th century
Much of the focus of modern criticism has been the historicity of the
"United Monarchy" of Israel, which according to the Hebrew
over both Judea and Samaria around the 10th century BCE. Thomas L.
Thompson, a leading minimalist scholar for example has written-
"There is no evidence of a United Monarchy, no evidence of a capital
Jerusalem or of any coherent, unified political force that
dominated western Palestine, let alone an empire of the size the
legends describe. We do not have evidence for the existence of kings
David or Solomon; nor do we have evidence for any temple
Jerusalem in this early period. What we do know of Israel and Judah
of the tenth century does not allow us to interpret this lack of
evidence as a gap in our knowledge and information about the past, a
result merely of the accidental nature of archeology. There is neither
room nor context, no artifact or archive that points to such
historical realities in Palestine's tenth century. One cannot speak
historically of a state without a population. Nor can one speak of a
capital without a town. Stories are not enough."
In Iron Age IIa (corresponding to the Monarchal period) Judah seems to
have been limited to small, mostly rural and unfortified settlements
in the Judean hills. This contrasts to the upper Samaria which was
becoming urbanized. This archaeological evidence as well as textual
criticism has led many modern historians to treat Israel/Samaria and
Judah as arising separately as distinct albeit related entities
Jerusalem respectively, and not as a united
kingdom with a capital in Jerusalem.
Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, an Iron site located in Judah, support
the biblical account of a United Monarchy. The Israel Antiquities
Authority stated: "The excavations at Khirbat Qeiyafa clearly reveal
an urban society that existed in Judah already in the late eleventh
century BCE. It can no longer be argued that the Kingdom of Judah
developed only in the late eighth century BCE or at some other later
The status of
Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE is a major subject of
debate. The oldest part of
Jerusalem and its original urban core
is the City of David, which does not show evidence of significant
Israelite residential activity until the 9th century. However,
unique administrative structures such as the Stepped Stone Structure
and the Large Stone Structure, which originally formed one structure,
contain material culture dated to Iron I. On account of the
apparent lack of settlement activity in the 10th century BCE, Israel
Finkelstein argues that
Jerusalem in the century was a small country
village in the Judean hills, not a national capital, and Ussishkin
argues that the city was entirely uninhabited.
Amihai Mazar contends
that if the Iron I/Iron IIa dating of administrative structures in the
David are correct, (as he believes) "
Jerusalem was a rather
small town with a mighty citadel, which could have been a center of a
substantial regional polity."
Jerusalem has been destroyed and then subsequently rebuilt
approximately 15 to 20 times since the time of
David and Solomon, some
argue much of the evidence of 10th century habitation could easily
have been eliminated. However,
Israel Finkelstein notes that
significant architecture from later in the Iron Age (Iron IIb) has
Since the discovery of the
Tel Dan Stele
Tel Dan Stele dated to the 9th or 8th
century BCE containing b y t d w d, accepted as a reference to the
"House of David" as a monarchic dynasty in Judah (another
possible reference occurs in the Mesha Stele), the majority of
scholars accept the existence of a polity ruled by
David and Solomon,
albeit on a more modest scale than described in the Bible.
Historicity of Jesus
Main article: Historicity of Jesus
The historicity of some
New Testament teachings of Jesus is also
debated by biblical scholars. The "quest for the historical Jesus"
began as early as the 18th century, and has continued to this day. The
most notable recent scholarship came in the 1980s and 1990s with the
work of J. D. Crossan, James D. G. Dunn, John P. Meier, E.
P. Sanders and N. T. Wright being the most widely read and
discussed. The earliest
New Testament texts which refer to Jesus,
Paul's letters, are usually dated in the 50s CE. Since Paul records
very little of Jesus' life and activities, these are of little help in
determining facts about the life of Jesus, although they may contain
references to information given to Paul from the eyewitnesses of
The discovery of the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls has shed light into the context
of 1st century Judea, noting the diversity of Jewish belief as well as
shared expectations and teachings. For example, the expectation of the
coming messiah, the beatitudes of the
Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount and much
else of the early Christian movement are found to have existed within
apocalyptic Judaism of the period. This has had the effect of
Early Christianity much more within its Jewish roots than
was previously the case. It is now recognised that Rabbinical Judaism
Early Christianity are only two of the many strands which survived
until the Jewish revolt of 66 to 70 CE, see also Split of
early Christianity and Judaism.
Almost all historical critics agree that a historical figure named
Jesus taught throughout the Galilean countryside c. 30 CE, was
believed by his followers to have performed supernatural acts, and was
sentenced to death by the Romans, possibly for insurrection.
Historicity of the Gospels
Main article: Historical reliability of the Gospels
Most modern scholars hold that the canonical
Gospel accounts were
written between 70 and 100 or 110 CE, four to eight decades after
the crucifixion, although based on earlier traditions and texts, such
Logia or sayings gospels, the passion account or other earlier
literature (See List of Gospels). Some scholars argue that these
accounts were compiled by witnesses although this view is
disputed by other scholars. There are also secular references to
Jesus, although they are few and quite late.
Many scholars have pointed out that the
Gospel of Mark shows signs of
a lack of knowledge of geographical, political and religious matters
in Judea in the time of Jesus. Thus, today the most common opinion is
that the author is unknown and both geographically and historically at
a distance to the narrated events although opinion
varies and scholars such as
Craig Blomberg accept the more traditional
view. The use of expressions that may be described as awkward and
rustic cause the
Gospel of Mark to appear somewhat unlettered or even
crude. This may be attributed to the influence that Saint Peter, a
fisherman, is suggested to have on the writing of Mark. It is
commonly thought that the writers of the
Gospel of Matthew and Gospel
of Luke used Mark as a source, with changes and improvement to
peculiarities and crudities in Mark.
Historicity of Acts
Main article: Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles
The historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles, the primary
source for the Apostolic Age, has been debated by biblical scholars
and historians of Early Christianity. A key contested issue however is
the historicity of the depiction of Paul in Acts. According to the
Encyclopædia Britannica, Acts describes Paul differently from how
Paul describes himself, both factually and theologically. Acts
differs with Paul's letters on important issues, such as the Law,
Paul's own apostleship, and his relation to the
Scholars generally prefer Paul's account over that in Acts.
However, some prominent scholars and historians view the book of Acts
as being fairly accurate and corroborated by archaeology, and in
general agreement with the Pauline epistles.
Schools of archaeological and historical thought
Overview of academic views
An educated reading of the biblical text requires knowledge of when it
was written, by whom, and for what purpose. For example, many
academics would agree that the
Pentateuch was in existence some time
shortly after the 6th century BCE, but they disagree about when it was
written. Proposed dates vary from the 15th century BCE to the 6th
century BCE. One popular hypothesis points to the reign of
century BCE). In this hypothesis, the events of, for example, Exodus
would have happened centuries before they were finally edited. This
topic is expanded upon in dating the Bible.
An important point to keep in mind is the documentary hypothesis,
which, using the biblical evidence itself, claims to demonstrate that
our current version is based on older written sources that are lost.
Although it has been modified heavily over the years, most scholars
accept some form of this hypothesis. There have also been and are a
number of scholars who reject it, for example
Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser, Jr., as
well as R. N. Whybray, Umberto Cassuto, O. T. Allis, Gleason Archer,
John Sailhamer, and Bruce Waltke.
There is great scholarly controversy on the historicity of events
recounted in the Biblical narratives prior to the Babylonian captivity
in the 6th century BCE.There is split between scholars who reject the
Biblical account of Ancient Israel as fundamentally ahistorical, and
those who accept it as a largely reliable source of history-termed
biblical minimalists and biblical maximalists respectively. The major
split of biblical scholarship into two opposing schools is strongly
disapproved by non-fundamentalist biblical scholars, as being an
attempt by conservative Christians to portray the field as a bipolar
argument, of which only one side is correct.
Recently the difference between the Maximalist and Minimalist has
reduced, and a new school started with a work, The Quest for the
Historical Israel: Debating
Archaeology and the History of Early
Israel by Israel Finkelstein, Amihai Mazar, and Brian B. Schmidt.
This school argues that post-processual archaeology enables us to
recognize the existence of a middle ground between Minimalism and
Maximalism, and that both these extremes need to be rejected.
Archaeology offers both confirmation of parts of the biblical record
and also poses challenges to the interpretations made by some. The
careful examination of the evidence demonstrates that the historical
accuracy of the first part of the
Old Testament is greatest during the
reign of Josiah. Some feel that the accuracy diminishes the further
backwards one proceeds from this date. This, they claim, would confirm
that a major redaction of the texts seems to have occurred at about
Main article: Biblical minimalism
The viewpoint sometimes called
Biblical minimalism generally holds
Bible is principally a theological and apologetic work, and
all stories within it are of an aetiological character.[citation
needed] The early stories are held to have a historical basis that was
reconstructed centuries later, and the stories possess at most only a
few tiny fragments of genuine historical memory–which by their
definition are only those points which are supported by archaeological
discoveries. In this view, all of the stories about the biblical
patriarchs are fictional, and the patriarchs mere legendary eponyms to
describe later historical realities. Further, biblical minimalists
hold that the twelve tribes of Israel were a later construction, the
stories of King
David and King
Saul were modeled upon later
Irano-Hellenistic examples, and that there is no archaeological
evidence that the united Kingdom of Israel, which the
Bible says that
David and Solomon ruled over an empire from the Euphrates to Eilath,
ever existed. Archaeological evidence suggesting otherwise, such as
the Mesha Stele, is often rejected as allegorical.
"It is hard to pinpoint when the movement started but 1968 seems to be
a reasonable date. During this year, two prize winning essays were
written in Copenhagen; one by Niels Peter Lemche, the other by Heike
Friis, which advocated a complete rethinking of the way we approach
Bible and attempt to draw historical conclusions from it."
In published books, one of the early advocates of the current school
of thought known as biblical minimalism is Giovanni Garbini, Storia e
ideologia nell'Israele antico (1986), translated into English as
History and Ideology in Ancient Israel (1988). In his footsteps
Thomas L. Thompson with his lengthy Early History of the
Israelite People: From the Written & Archaeological Sources (1992)
and, building explicitly on Thompson's book, P. R. Davies' shorter
work, In Search of 'Ancient Israel' (1992). In the latter, Davies
finds historical Israel only in archaeological remains, biblical
Israel only in Scripture, and recent reconstructions of "ancient
Israel" to be an unacceptable amalgam of the two. Thompson and Davies
see the entire Hebrew
Bible (Old Testament) as the imaginative
creation of a small community of Jews at
Jerusalem during the period
Bible assigns to after the return from the Babylonian exile,
from 539 BCE onward. Niels Peter Lemche, Thompson's fellow faculty
member at the University of Copenhagen, also followed with several
titles that show Thompson's influence, including The
history and tradition (1998). The presence of both Thompson and Lemche
at the same institution has led to the use of the term "Copenhagen
school". The effect of biblical minimalism from 1992 onward was debate
with more than two points of view.
There is great scholarly controversy on the historicity particularly
of those events recounted in the Biblical narratives prior to the
Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BCE. The position of
maximalism is that the
Bible is to be taken as a historical source
unless proven otherwise, and furthermore that absence of evidence is
not evidence of absence. Regarding the debate over
the historicity of ancient Israel, the maximalist position holds that
the accounts of the United Monarchy and the early kings of Israel,
David and Saul, are to be taken as largely historical, and are
supported by archaeological evidence.
Israel Finkelstein and
Neil Asher Silberman published The
Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the
Origin of Its Sacred Texts which advocated a view midway toward
biblical minimalism and caused an uproar among many conservatives.
In the 25th anniversary issue of Biblical
(March/April 2001 edition), editor
Hershel Shanks quoted several
biblical scholars who insisted that minimalism was dying, although
leading minimalists deny this and a claim has been made "We are all
minimalists now" (an allusion to We are all Keynesians now).
Apart from the well-funded (and fundamentalist) "biblical
archaeologists," we are in fact nearly all "minimalists" now.
— Philip Davies.
The fact is that we are all minimalists—at least, when it comes to
the patriarchal period and the settlement. When I began my PhD studies
more than three decades ago in the USA, the 'substantial historicity'
of the patriarchs was widely accepted as was the unified conquest of
the land. These days it is quite difficult to find anyone who takes
In fact, until recently I could find no 'maximalist' history of Israel
since Wellhausen. ... In fact, though, 'maximalist' has been widely
defined as someone who accepts the biblical text unless it can be
proven wrong. If so, very few are willing to operate like this, not
even John Bright (1980) whose history is not a maximalist one
according to the definition just given.
— Lester L. Grabbe.
In 2003, Kenneth Kitchen, a scholar who adopts a more maximalist point
of view, authored the book On the Reliability of the Old Testament.
Kitchen advocated the reliability of many (although not all) parts of
Torah and in no uncertain terms criticizes the work of Finkelstein
and Silberman, to which Finkelstein has since responded.[citation
Jennifer Wallace describes archaeologist Israel Finkelstein's view in
her article "Shifting Ground in the Holy Land", appearing in
Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006:
He (Israel Finkelstein) cites the fact—now accepted by most
archaeologists—that many of the cities
Joshua is supposed to have
sacked in the late 13th century B.C. had ceased to exist by that time.
Hazor was destroyed in the middle of that century, Ai was abandoned
before 2000 B.C. Even Jericho, where
Joshua is said to have brought
the walls tumbling down by circling the city seven times with blaring
trumpets, was destroyed in 1500 B.C. Now controlled by the Palestinian
Jericho site consists of crumbling pits and trenches
that testify to a century of fruitless digging.
However, despite problems with the archaeological record, some
Joshua in the mid-second millennium, at about the
time the Egyptian Empire came to rule over Canaan, and not the 13th
century as Finkelstein or Kitchen claim, and view the destruction
layers of the period as corroboration of the biblical account. The
destruction of Hazor in the mid-13th century is seen as corroboration
of the biblical account of the later destruction carried out by
Deborah and Barak as recorded in the
Book of Judges. The location that
Finkelstein refers to as "Ai" is generally dismissed as the location
of the biblical Ai, since it was destroyed and buried in the 3rd
millennium. The prominent site has been known by that name since at
least Hellenistic times, if not before. Minimalists all hold that
dating these events as contemporary are etiological explanations
written centuries after the events they claim to report.
Both Finkelstein and Silberman do accept that
David and Solomon were
really existing persons (not kings but bandit leaders or hill country
chieftains) from Judah about the 10th century BCE, but
they do not assume that there was such a thing as United Monarchy with
a capital in Jerusalem.
Bible reports that Jehoshaphat, a contemporary of Ahab, offered
manpower and horses for the northern kingdom's wars against the
Arameans. He strengthened his relationship with the northern kingdom
by arranging a diplomatic marriage: the Israelite princess Athaliah,
sister or daughter of King Ahab, married Jehoram, the son of
Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:18). The house of
Jerusalem was now
directly linked to (and apparently dominated by) the Israelite royalty
of Samaria. In fact, we might suggest that this represented the
north's takeover by marriage of Judah. Thus in the ninth century
BCE—nearly a century after the presumed time of David—we can
finally point to the historical existence of a great united monarchy
of Israel, stretching from Dan in the north to Beer-sheba in the
south, with significant conquered territories in Syria and
Transjordan. But this united monarchy—a real united monarchy—was
ruled by the Omrides, not the Davidides, and its capital was Samaria,
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
Others, such as
David Ussishkin, argue that those who follow the
biblical depiction of a United Monarchy do so on the basis of limited
evidence while hoping to uncover real archaeological proof in the
future. Gunnar Lehmann suggests that there is still a possibility
David and Solomon were able to become local chieftains of some
importance and claims that
Jerusalem at the time was at best a small
town in a sparsely populated area in which alliances of tribal kinship
groups formed the basis of society. He goes on further to claim that
it was at best a small regional centre, one of three to four in the
territory of Judah and neither
David nor Solomon had the manpower or
the requisite social/political/administrative structure to rule the
kind of empire described in the Bible.
These views are strongly criticized by William G. Dever, Helga
Amihai Mazar and Amnon Ben-Tor.
André Lemaire states in Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman
Destruction of the Temple that the principal points of the
biblical tradition with Solomon as generally trustworthy, as does
Kenneth Kitchen, who argue that Solomon ruled over a comparatively
wealthy "mini-empire", rather than a small city-state.
Recently, Finkelstein has joined with the more conservative Amihai
Mazar to explore the areas of agreement and disagreement and there are
signs the intensity of the debate between the so-called minimalist and
maximalist scholars is diminishing. This view is also taken by
Richard S. Hess, which shows there is in fact a plurality of
views between maximalists and minimalists. Jack Cargill has shown
that popular textbooks not only fail to give readers up to date
archaeological evidence, but that they also fail to correctly
represent the diversity of views present on the subject. And Megan
Bishop Moore and Brad E. Kelle provide an overview of the respective
evolving approaches and attendant controversies, especially during the
period from the mid-1980s through 2011, in their book Biblical History
and Israel's Past.
Abraham#Historicity and origins
Biblical archaeology school
Book of Daniel#Composition
Book of Esther#Historicity
Book of Joshua#Genre (historicity)
Census of Quirinius
Chronology of Jesus
Development of the
New Testament canon
Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy)#History
List of artifacts in biblical archaeology
Massacre of the Innocents#Historicity
Sanhedrin trial of Jesus
Biblical archaeology has helped us understand a lot about the world of
Bible and clarified a considerable amount of what we find in the
Bible. But the archaeological record has not been friendly for one
vital issue, Israel's origins: the period of slavery in Egypt, the
mass departure of Israelite slaves from Egypt, and the violent
conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites. The strong consensus
is that there is at best sparse indirect evidence for these biblical
episodes, and for the conquest there is considerable evidence against
— Peter Enns.
The mainstream view of critical biblical scholarship accepts that
Joshua (perhaps Judges) is substantially devoid of reliable
history and that it was in the Persian period that the bulk of Hebrew
Bible literature was either composed or achieved its canonical shape
— Philip Davies.
He cites the fact—now accepted by most archaeologists—that many of
Joshua is supposed to have sacked in the late 13th century
b.c. had ceased to exist by that time. Hazor was destroyed in the
middle of that century, and Ai was abandoned before 2000 b.c. Even
Joshua is said to have brought the walls tumbling down
by circling the city seven times with blaring trumpets, was destroyed
in 1500 b.c. Now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the Jericho
site consists of crumbling pits and trenches that testify to a century
of fruitless digging.
— Jennifer Wallace.
So although much of the archaeological evidence demonstrates that the
Bible cannot in most cases be taken literally, many of the
people, places and things probably did exist at some time or another.
— Jonathan Michael.
But someone may ask: 'Is not Scripture opposed to those who hold that
heaven is spherical, when it says, who stretches out heaven like a
skin?' Let it be opposed indeed if their statement is false.... But if
they are able to establish their doctrine with proofs that cannot be
denied, we must show that this statement of Scripture about the skin
is not opposed to the truth of their conclusions
— Davis Young.
[F]or not only has "archaeology" not proven a single event of the
patriarchal tradition to be historical, it has not shown any of the
traditions to be likely ... it must be concluded that any such
historicity as is commonly spoken of in both scholarly and popular
works about the patriarchs of Genesis is hardly possible and totally
— Thomas Thompson.
^ Thompson 2014, p. 164.
^ Enns 2013, p. unpaginated.
^ Davies, Philip (April 2010). "Beyond Labels: What Comes Next?". The
Bible and Interpretation. Retrieved 2016-05-31. It has been accepted
for decades that the
Bible is not in principle either historically
reliable or unreliable, but both: it contains both memories of real
events and also fictions.
^ a b Finkelstein & Silberman 2006, p. 103
^ Davies 2015, "Minimalism...".
^ a b Wallace 2006, p. unpaginated.
^ Michael 2009, p. 275.
^ Grabbe 2007.
^ Grosse, Sven (2011-01-01). Theologie des Kanons: der christliche
Kanon, seine Hermeneutik und die Historizität seiner Aussagen ;
die Lehren der Kirchenväter als Grundlegung der Lehre von der
Heiligen Schrift (in German). LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 91–92.
^ Grosse, Sven (2011-01-01). Theologie des Kanons: der christliche
Kanon, seine Hermeneutik und die Historizität seiner Aussagen ;
die Lehren der Kirchenväter als Grundlegung der Lehre von der
Heiligen Schrift (in German). LIT Verlag Münster. p. 94.
ISBN 978-3643800787. One does not read in the
Gospel that the
Lord said: "I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the
course of the sun and moon." For He willed to make them Christians,
not mathematicians. (Translation of the German Quote according
^ Barstad, Hans M. (2008-01-01). History and the Hebrew Bible: Studies
in Ancient Israelite and Ancient Near Eastern Historiography. Mohr
Siebeck. pp. 40–42. ISBN 978-3161498091.
^ McNutt, Paula M. (1999). Reconstructing the society of ancient
Israel. London: SPCK. p. 4, emphasis added.
^ BT Pesachim 6b. Literally: no earlier or later in the Torah
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1962 / translation 2006), Heavenly Torah: As
Refracted Through the Generations, p. 240
^ Albright, William Foxwell (1985).
Archaeology of Palestine. Peter
Smith Pub Inc. p. 128. ISBN 0844600032. Discovery after
discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details of the
Bible as a source of history.
^ Dever, William G. (2008), "Did God Have a Wife?:
Folk Religion in Ancient Israel" (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
^ Henry, Carl Ferdinand Howard (1999) . "The Chicago Statement
on Biblical Inerrancy". God, Revelation and Authority. 4. Wheaton,
Ill: Crossway Books. pp. 211–219. ISBN 1581340567.
Archived from the original on 2006-11-15.
^ Thompson, Thomas (2002) . The Historicity of the Patriarchal
Narratives: The Quest for the Historical Abraham. Valley Forge, Pa:
Trinity Press International. ISBN 1563383896.
^ Hobbes, Thomas (1651). "Chapter XXXIII. Of the number, antiquity,
scope, authority and interpreters of the books of Holy Scripture".
Leviathan. Green Dragon in St. Paul's Churchyard: Andrew Crooke.
^ The Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes, Constituting, in
Combination with the Twenty-nine Volumes of the Eleventh Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica Company, Limited. 1910. p. 861.
^ Spinoza, Baruch (1670). "Chapter VIII. Of the authorship of the
Pentateuch and the other historical books of the Old Testament". A
Theologico-Political Treatise (Part II).
^ Simon, Richard (1682). A critical history of the Old Testament.
London: Walter Davis. p. 21.
^ a b Wenham, Gordon J. (2003). "Genesis 1–11". Exploring the Old
Testament: A Guide to the Pentateuch. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity
Press. ISBN 0830825517.
^ Wellhausen, Julius (1885). Prolegomena to the History of Israel.
Adam and Charles Black.
^ Wenham, Gordon. "Pentateuchal Studies Today,"
^ Klein-Braslavy, Sara (1986). "The Creation of the world and
Maimonides' interpretation of Gen. i–v". In Pines, S.; Yovel, Y.
Maimonides and Philosophy (International Archives of the History of
Ideas / Archives internationales d'histoire des idées). Berlin:
Springer. pp. 65–78. ISBN 9024734398.
^ Physics I, 7
^ Dorandi 1999, p. 50.
^ Lang 2001, p. 2.
^ Young 1988, pp. 42–45.
^ Gillispie, Charles Coulston (1996) . Genesis and geology: a
study in the relations of scientific thought, natural theology, and
social opinion in Great Britain, 1790–1850. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press. p. 224. ISBN 0674344812.
^ Quoted in Gillispie, Charles Coulston (1996) . Genesis and
geology: a study in the relations of scientific thought, natural
theology, and social opinion in Great Britain, 1790–1850. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press. pp. 142–143.
^ Gunkel 1997, p. lxviii.
^ Thompson, op cit, p. 328[full citation needed]
^ Mazar 1992, p. [page needed]
^ Dever, William (March 1993). "What Remains of the House that
Albright Built?". The Biblical Archaeologist. The Biblical
Archaeologist, Vol. 56, No. 1. 56 (1): 25–35. doi:10.2307/3210358.
^ a b c d e Mazar, Amihai (2010). "
Archaeology and the Biblical
Narrative: The Case of the United Monarchy" (PDF). In Kratz, Reinhard
G.; Spieckermann, Hermann; Corzilius, Björn; Pilger, Tanja. One God -
one cult - one nation archaeological and biblical perspectives.
Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 29–58.
doi:10.1515/9783110223583.29. ISBN 978-3110223583.
^ a b c d Israel Finkelstein;
Neil Asher Silberman (6 March 2002). The
Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the
Origin of Sacred Texts. Simon and Schuster. pp. 81–82.
^ a b Holland, Thomas A. (1997). "Jericho". In Eric M. Meyers. The
Oxford Encyclopedia of
Archaeology in the Near East. Oxford University
Press. pp. 220–224.
^ Kenyon, Kathleen M. (1957). Digging up Jericho: The Results of the
Jericho Excavations, 1952–1956. New York: Praeger.
^ Bienkowski, Piotr (1986).
Jericho in the Late Bronze Age.
Warminster. pp. 120–125.
^ Peake's commentary on the Bible
^ a b c Finkelstein & Silberman 2001
^ Tubb 1998, pp. 13–14
^ McNutt 1999, p. 47.
^ K. L. Noll, Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction, A&C
Black, 2001 p.164:‘It would seems that in the eyes of Merneptah’s
artisans, Israel was a Canaanite group indistinguishable from all
other Canaanite groups.’ ‘It is likely that Merneptah’s Israel
was a group of Canaanites located in the Jezreel Valley.’
^ Redford, Donald B. (1992). Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in ancient
times. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p. 305.
^ Garfinkel, Yossi; Ganor, Sa‘ar; Hasel, Michael (19 April 2012).
"Journal 124: Khirbat Qeiyafa Preliminary Report".
Hadashot-esi.org.il. Archived from the original on 16 May 2012.
^ Moore, Megan Bishop; Kelle, Brad E. (17 May 2011). "Biblical History
and Israel S Past: The Changing Study of the
Bible and History". Wm.
B. Eerdmans Publishing – via Google Books.
^ Schniedewind, W.M. (1996). "Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and
Jehu's Revolt". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
302 (302): 75–90. doi:10.2307/1357129. JSTOR 1357129.
^ Dever, William G. (2002), What Did the Biblical Writers Know and
When Did They Know It? Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
^ Lemaire, André "House of
David Restored in Moabite Inscription"
Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine., Biblical Archaeology
Review, May/June 1994.
^ Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions
^ Crossan, J. D. "The Historical Jesus: A Mediterranean Jewish
Peasant," HarperOne, 1993, ISBN 0060616296
^ James D. G. Dunn, "Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making,
Vol. 1, Eerdmans, 2003"
^ John P. Meier, "A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, 3
vols., the most recent volume from Yale University Press, 2001"
^ Sanders, E.P. "The Historical Figure of Jesus," Penguin, 1996,
^ Wright, N.T. "Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and
the Question of God", Vol. 2, Augsburg Fortress Press, 1997,
^ John P. Meier,
A Marginal Jew Volume I, Doubleday, 1991.
^ The Dead Sea scrolls and Christian origins, Joseph Fitzmyer, pp.
^ Bernstein, Richard (April 1, 1998). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Looking for
Jesus and Jews in the Dead Sea Scrolls". The New York Times. Retrieved
May 25, 2010.
^ Shanks, Hershel "Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader From
Archaeology Review", archive.org
^ Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew, Vol. II, Doubleday, 1994,
^ Mack, Burton (1996), "Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of
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^ Bauckham, Richard "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses," Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing, 2006, ISBN 0802831621
^ Byrskog, Samuel "Story as History, History as Story," Mohr Siebeck,
2000, ISBN 3161473051
^ Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? A Debate
between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, College of the Holy
Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, March 28, 2006
^ Analecta Romana Instituti Danici, Danske selskab, Copenhagen,
^ Nineham, Dennis, Saint Mark, Westminster Press, 1978,
ISBN 0664213448, p. 193
^ Bart Ehrman, The New Testament. A Historical Introduction to the
Early Christian Writings, p. 74 ISBN 0195154622
^ McDonald, Lee Martin and Porter, Stanley.
Early Christianity and its
Sacred Literature, Hendrickson Publishers, 2000, p. 286
^ Strobel, Lee. "The Case for Christ". 1998. Chapter one, an interview
with Blomberg, ISBN 0310209307
^ a b Text-critical methodology and the pre-Caesarean text: Codex W in
the Gospel, Larry W. Hurtado, p. 25
^ "biblical literature." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia
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^ "Acts presents a picture of Paul that differs from his own
description of himself in many of his letters, both factually and
theologically." biblical literature (2010). In Encyclopædia
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Britannica Online: .
^ "That an actual companion of Paul writing about his mission journeys
could be in so much disagreement with Paul (whose theology is
evidenced in his letters) about fundamental issues such as the Law,
his apostleship, and his relationship to the
Jerusalem church is
hardly conceivable." biblical literature (2010). In Encyclopædia
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^ "Paul's own account is generally regarded as the more reliable."
Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield.
1985. p. 316.
^ Bruce, F.F. (1981). "The
New Testament Documents: Are They
Reliable?" Ch. 7–8. InterVarsity Press.
^ Kitchen, Kenneth (2006). On the Reliability of the Old Testament.
Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
^ Kitchen 2003, p. [page needed]
^ "Exploding the J.E.D.P. Theory - The Documentary Hypothesis".
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Composition and Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
^ Waltke, Bruce (2001). Genesis – A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI:
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^ Spong, John Shelby (1992) Rescuing the
Bible from Fundamentalism
^ a b Finkelstein, Mazar & Schmidt 2007,
p. [page needed]
^ George Athas, 'Minimalism': The Copenhagen School of Thought in
Biblical Studies, edited transcript of lecture, 3rd ed., University of
Sydney, April 29, 1999.
^ Garbini 1988.
^ Thompson 1992.
^ Davies 1995.
^ Mykytiuk 2010, p. 76.
^ Brettler 2003, pp. 1–21.
^ Mykytiuk 2012, pp. 101–137 see the section "Toward a Balanced
View of Minimalism: A Summary of Published Critiques"
^ "Maximalists and Minimalists", Livius.org.
^ Finkelstein & Silberman 2001.
^ Jack Cargill Ancient Israel in Western Civ Textbooks Archived
2005-09-05 at the Wayback Machine.. Quoting Amy Dockster Marcus about
the minimalists: "The bottom line is that when it comes to the big
picture, they are often right. Many of their ideas, once considered
far-fetched, are now solidly mainstream concepts".
^ American Journal of
Theology & Philosophy Vol. 14, No. 1 January
^ Philip Davies "Beyond Labels: What Comes Next?"
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David and Solomon Beschrijving. Bol.com
^ Richard N. Ostling Was King
David legend or fiction? Archived
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^ Finkelstein, & Silberman 2006, p. 20
^ Ussishkin, David, "Solomon's Jerusalem: The Texts and the Facts on
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^ Lehrmann, Gunnar, "The United Monarchy in the Countryside:
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Vaughn Andrew G. and Killebrew, Ann E. eds. (2003),
Jerusalem in Bible
and Archaeology: The First Temple Period (SBL Symposium Series 18;
Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature)
^ Dever 2001, p. 160.
^ Shanks 1999, p. 113.
^ Hess, Richard S. (2007) Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and
Biblical Survey, Baker Academic, ISBN 0801027179
^ "Jack Cargill – Ancient Israel in Western Civ Textbooks – The
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Evangelical Leaders Stop Saying about Biblical Scholarship".
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Unearthed. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2006). "3. Murder, Lust,
David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred
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comparative study of the Hebrew
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Larsson,, G. (2007). The Chronological System of the Old Testament".
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Lemche, Niels Peter (1998). The
Israelites in History and Tradition.
Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0664227272.
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Mithraic Studies. Manchester University Press. 1975.
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34–41, 63. — This article presents a debate between a
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683–698. — a response to the article by Iain W.
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Thompson, Thomas L. (1999). The Mythic Past: Biblical
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Thompson, Thomas L. The
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'Minimalism' – The Copenhagen School of Thought in Biblical Studies
Archaeology Society: examines discoveries and controversies
about historical veracity of the Bible
Livius.org: Maximalism and minimalism
Bible and history
History of ancient Israel and Judah
Quest for the historical Jesus
Jesus in comparative mythology
Historicity of Jesus
Historicity of the Bible
Historical reliability of the Gospels
List of artifacts in biblical archaeology
List of biblical figures identified in extra-biblical sources
List of burial places of biblical figures
List of Hebrew
New Testament papyri
New Testament uncials
Criticism of the Bible
Christ myth theory<