Item description for David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition by Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman...
Overview The co-authors of The Bible Unearthed draw on recent archaeological findings to illuminate the origins of modern civilization as reflected by the reigns of two ancient biblical kings, identifying mythical and factual elements attributed to their characters and chronicling how their stories represent Jewish faith. Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
Publishers Description The exciting field of biblical archaeology has revolutionized our understanding of the Bible - and no one has done more to popularise this vast store of knowledge than Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, who revealed what we now know about when and why the Bible was first written in THE BIBLE UNEARTHED. Now, with DAVID AND SOLOMON, they do nothing less than help us to understand the sacred kings and founding fathers of western civilization. David and his son Solomon are famous in the Bible for their warrior prowess, legendary loves, wisdom, poetry, conquests, and ambitious building programmes. Yet thanks to archaeology's astonishing finds, we now know that most of these stories are myths. Finkelstein and Silberman show us that the historical David was a bandit leader in a tiny back-water called Jerusalem, and how - through wars, conquests and epic tragedies like the exile of the Jews in the centuries before Christ and the later Roman conquest - David and his successor were reshaped into mighty kings and even messiahs, symbols of hope to Jews and Christians alike in times of strife and despair and models for the great kings of Europe.A landmark work of research and lucid scholarship by two brilliant luminaries, DAVID AND SOLOMON recasts the very genesis of western history in a whole new light.
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More About Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman
Israel Finkelstein is a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He is a leading figure in the archaeology of the Levant and the laureate of the 2005 Dan David Prize in the Past Dimension -- Archaeology. Finkelstein served for many years as the Director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and is the co-Director of the Megiddo Expedition. He is the co-author, with Neil Silberman, of "The Bible Unearthed" (Free Press, 2001) and the author of many field reports and scholarly articles.
Reviews - What do customers think about David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition?
An enlightened treatment of two major biblical figures Feb 12, 2008
It is so refreshing to read a book like this! For too long, biblical romantics have fantasized that archaeology would `verify' the history constructed by the biblical text itself; the narrative account. More recently, "revisionists" have argued that the biblical text is so divorced from history so as to be nothing more than an ideologically grounded fiction! Finkelstein and Silberman show, through a clear and readable account, just how far archaeology has come in demonstrating that the history out of which the Bible arose - in this case, the stories of David & Solomon - is different from the account given in the biblical text, while simultaneously revealing that the actual history behind the text; the stories of the two great heroes and many of the details of the books of Samuel and Kings--were not just "made up" by later writers. As such, archaeology is disproving both the biblical literalists (who think that history must reflect what the Bible says, and who therefore distort archaeology and history to their own ends) and those who dismiss the Bible as having no historical veracity at all.
This book is a must read for anyone - religious or not - who wants to understand the relationship between the biblical text and our growing understanding of what actually happened in the ancient Near East between 1000 BCE and the time of Christ.
The authors show how the two kingdoms - Israel and Judah - developed differently; how the writers of the stories of David & Solomon were responding to contemporary conditions and problems. Yet they also incorporated authentic details, remembered from earlier times, into what became the biblical text. Finkelstein and Silberman allow the reader to follow the development of the stories of David and Solomon, from the 9th and 8th centuries BCE down through the time of Christ and the early church; showing how the roles of David and Solomon have changed over the centuries. They even allude to the way David and Solomon are depicted in mediaeval art and the role their stories have played in modern politics and revolutions.
Well-written, but not entirely convincing Jul 13, 2007
First of all, while I disagree with the authors, this is a very entertaining book. It is well-written and their theory, as they present it, seems quite compelling. Indeed, I can't disprove their theory, which is certainly alluring in many ways.
However, I have several big issues with the authors. Primarily, they do not cite sources. Yes, the bibliography is nice, but having it doesn't mean that the authors cited agree with them or that they rightly appropriate what the authors wrote. I understand that it was written for a popular audience, but that doesn't let them off the hook.
In addition, they operate with assumptions that differ from a majority of biblical scholars. That would be okay if they were transparent. However, it seems that they would have the reader believe that their chronology (which is a couple of centuries lower than everyone else) is mainstream, when it is clearly not. (It is based on Finkelstein's ceramic chronology, which is rejected by the rest of the field.) Furthermore, they fail to justify their position on the late writing in Israel. In large part, their thesis hangs on these two highly disputed assertions.
If you want a really good review of this book, read Bill Dever's review of these two authors' first book, The Bible Unearthed. It's in the April 2001 edition of BASOR. Basically everything he says about that book applies to this one.
By the way, neither Finkelstein nor Dever identify themselves as religious.
As a side note, I'm dismayed by stuff like this. After first reading, I was at a loss. However, I had to do a critical review of it for class, and in so doing, I discovered weaknesses in their argument. I'm dismayed because most of the intended audience will not be assigned to review it, so they'll take Finkelstein (and Silberman) at their word. At least if the authors were honest, readers wouldn't assume that their claims are undisputed.
Very Interesting Biblical History May 12, 2007
This is a very interesting book of DAVID and SOLOMON. I wanted to study to know how they live on their lives. This is an excellent book.
Biased and vague "truth" Apr 1, 2007
This book was extremely boring. It took a long time to finish because I had a hard time forcing myself to continually pick it up. I appreciate differing views, but authors should at least be honest with their intentions. Despite what they say, the "facts" offered in this text contained loads of speculation and make a mockery of anyone that found evidence contrary to their own. The points that they seemed to weigh on the heaviest had less tangible evidence and more biased opinion then the rest. With all do respect to the authors, I found their arrogance to be very annoying and I do not plan on reading anything else published by them.
David and Solomon unearthed Feb 20, 2007
I actually talked with Israel Finkelstein prior to his publication of this book and I remember being very concerned.
In order to do proper biblical analysis, I think the application of two skill sets is most preferable:
1) An appreciation of the curated material that the Bible gives...or text analysis and
2) An appreciation of the extra biblical material including not only archeologicial findings but other preserved historical writings and traditions.
The reason I was concerned about this book when I talked with Finkelstein was because he didn't then give me the feeling that he was familiar with, let alone, respectful of the process of text analysis.
Traditional text analysis tells us that the Old Testament of the Bible was composed by five basic authors:
1) A J author, so called because he (she, according to Harold Bloom) consistently refers to god as Yahweh (or Jahweh/Jehovah as rendered by the original German text critics) throughout his tale of creation and exodus;
2) An E author, so called because he supposedly hailed from Ephraim or Israel, the northern Yahweh worshiping Iron Age Canaanite community and called his god Elohim (at least until he revealed his name to Moses at the opening of Exodus);
3) A P author so called because his textual emandations focused on matters of concern to Priests;
4) A D author connected with Deuteronomy and Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings 1 and 2...the Bible's so called Deuteronomistic history; and
5) An R author so called because he made the final redactions necssary to bring these materials together as a complete account.
However, it is significant to point out that even these materials have been deemed to be predated under text analysis by other biblical materials most notably including:
1) Exodus 15...the Song of the Sea, dated by text analysis to around 13 to 12 hundred BCE;
2) Deuteronomy 33...the Blessing of Moses, dated by text analysis to around the time of the Song of the Sea;
3) Judges 5...the Song of Deborah, dated between the Song of the Sea and the Blessing of Moses and
4) The Blessing of Jacob...at the end of Genesis dated to around the time of King David.
As can be seen from the foregoing discussion, a text analysis, properly utilized could reveal much in terms of understanding the Bible's origins.
That's why I was very pleased to see that in his finished work, Finkelstein produced a product showing respect for not only the archeological field work he has been so connected with but also the text analysis that can be so helpful in rendering competent opinions on biblical origins.
Needless to say, what Finkelstein says about biblical origins does carry great evidentiary support. As a couple of for instances:
1) The David and Solomon monarchies were little more than country hill chiefdoms. This account, as he correctly points out, squares not only with the archeological evidence showing little growth in Jerusalem until some two hundred years following the time of David and Solomon, it also squares with other text evidence and text analysis he didn't even quote from. Again, citing the Song of Deborah, it is noteworthy to find that the tribe of Judah (David's tribe) is not even mentioned and when it is mentioned in older biblical text material (the Blessing of Moses) the notice is not very abbreviated...consistent with Finkelstein's claim of the humble origins of David and Solomon. This also squares with text analysis provided by Mark Smith in his The Early History of God wherein Smith makes the case that the early biblical representations of the miraculous origins of Yahweh worship were themselves later emandations from the times of Hezekiah and Josiah...again in accord with points made by Finkelstein in this book.
2) Judah and Israel were in reality two separate kingdoms for which a claim of mythic original unity was only made after the fall of Israel to Sargon II under King Hoshea in 721 BCE. Here again, a review of the Song of Deborah notably shows the absence of Judah as joining under the forces of Barak. And here again, Mark Smith's book would again easily harmonize with the Finkelstein thesis that a joint ancient Israel and Judah under David and Solomon was merely a later created myth of origins.
Admittedly, and particularly as to the second for instance just mentioned, there remains the notice in the Blessing of Moses which seemingly unites Judah with the Israelite tribes as part of a common entity. And admittedly there is also the scholarship of Richard Friedman (author of: Who wrote the Bible, The Hidden Book in the Bible, among others) whose text analysis fails to easily and fully harmonize with all the dating and all the suppositions made by Finkelstein.
However, these discrepancies serve like this book itself, not to hinder but to further one of the most fascinating of inquiries: the historical bonafides of the Bible itself.