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 Silberman...
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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Studio: Free Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.1" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Jan 31, 2006
Publisher Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743243625 ISBN13 9780743243629
Availability 0 units.
More About Israel Finkelstein & Neil 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?
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.
Same ol' same ol' Jan 4, 2007
Having read the previous book by this duo about biblical archeology I looked forward to a good and interesting read. I was hugely disappointed. There was nothing new in this book: it seemed to be a re-hash of some of the material in the earlier book. It may well be interesting to those who have not read the first book, but for me it was very tempting to put it down. (However, I did read it through to the end.)
Complex Material, Very Well Presented Sep 17, 2006
The authors have put together research from a variety of disciplines to explore the Biblical stories of David and Solomon. They clearly present their findings.
While I was aware that the stories were spread over a number of books, I was not aware that the presentation changed. I presume that the story I learned in Sunday School was the one in Chronicles.
Like the Biblical record of Jesus, the records of David and Solomon were written at minimum 100 years after the events. I had never thought to question "why" they were written. The authors suggest that texts were written to elevate the Davidic successors, or Judah. If this is so, the intended audience would have a cultural ethic that would admire the cave living Robin Hood/bandit, the keeping of wives and concubines, the story of Bathsheba and her husband's fate. These are hardly the values of today's Judeo-Christian ethic.
The book discusses the influence of David and Solomon on art and on governmental theories. It's a stretch to say that this book "traces" them, which I believe would require a separate book (or multi-volume set). I think the material given on this is just enough for the scope of this volume.
The power of this book is its citation of the Biblical text, side by side with maps and research findings. Each chapter begins with a chart capsulizing the story, the historical period and the archeaologic findings. This clearly tells the reader what will be developed in the chapter, and the promise is fulfilled.
The writers and the book designers are in sych, (so often books are rushed and maps appear pages beyond their narrative) and very clear maps and tables appear along side the narrative they illustrate.
One area that the author's present without comment is that the Queen of Sheba is from Yemen. If you ask, most American Blacks will tell you she was from Ethiopia. (The eastern most part of this African region is separated from Yemen by a narrow straight.) Reseachers who have ignored the oral traditions of Thomas Jefferson's progeny have had to deal with recent DNA testing. Has forensic research verified the location of Sheba in Yemen?
This was an excellent book. It's brings together the work of thousands of people from many disciplines. I hope in a few years there is a update.
Recent archaeological finds and the biblical past Apr 22, 2006
Archaeologists are constantly making discoveries in the Middle East, so have they found the palace of King David? No, but they've vastly expanded the knowledge of the times, as DAVID AND SOLOMON: IN SEARCH OF THE BIBLE'S SACRED KINGS AND THE ROOTS OF WESTERN TRADITION shows. A chronological history evolves which uses recent archaeological finds to analyze and date the biblical past, from the first oral memories of David in the 10th century BCE to the changed perceptions of David and Solomon's importance in later years. The idea that the historical reality of ancient Judah created a legend fostered into modern times is supported by many discoveries which the lively exploration DAVID AND SOLOMON analyzes for general-interest readers and Biblical scholars alike.
Unearthing I & II Samuel and I Kings Apr 13, 2006
In a thought provoking application of archaeological findings to the Biblical texts, Finkelstein & Silberman arrive at striking conclusions, some better-reasoned than others. The bottom line of "David & Solomon" is that the two were rather insignificant tribal chieftans ruling from a backwater hilltop village called Jerusalem, and that Saul was a somewhat more significant chieftan in the north country who became a big enough nuisance to Egypt that, with the help of Philistine mercenaries, they devastated his kingdom. David either helped in this devastation, or stood idly by while Saul was destroyed, but he definitely profited by Saul's misfortune.
Finklestein & Silberman credit the broad outline of David's and Saul's careers, but not the detail. They demonstrate that the political, economic, and social conditions of David's times correspond perfectly with the conditions described in the story of David's outlaw youth, and that Northern Israel was devastated about the time Saul and Jonathan would have been killed on Mount Gilboa. If the background of the Saul and David stories therefore correspond quite closely to archaeological findings, why should the detail be rejected out of hand? Given allowance for the "good old days" effect and the political need to cast David in the best light possible while casting Saul in the worst light possible, why can't the stories be considered at least as accurate as Herodotus, the "Father of History"? The scholarship of the 1960's posited that the story of David in Samuel consisted of an "early source" which was quite accurate overwritten by a "late source" which was concerned with polemic and apologetic. Current scholarship posits a multi-layered text similar to that described by Finkelstein & Silberman. As to the story of Solomon: They make an excellent case for the accomplishments of the Omrid dynasty and of Hezekiah and Mannassah being retrojected to the reign of Solomon.
The authors' greatest misstep comes in the chapter entitled "Challenging Goliath." They characterize the Philistine giant's armor as that of a 7th Century Greek hoplite. The giant's panoply might well correspond to the panoply of a Greek warrior from the Heroic Age, but not a hoplite. Hoplites were not individual warriors, but soldiers who fought in rank and in unison. Heroic Age Greek warriors engaged in single combat. Hoplites wore solid cuirasses, not mail. They carried only one thrusting spear, not two javelins. A hoplite's helmet was so constructed as to withstand a sling bullet to the forehead. On the other hand, the boar's tooth helmet of the Heroic Age would not. The hoplon (shield), from which the hoplite derived his name, was not carried by a shield bearer, but by the individual soldier. Hoplite warfare was in its infancy in the 7th Century, and hoplites weren't exported as mercenaries in any significant number until after the Peloponnesian War. Notice I didn't name the Philistine giant. "The Early Source," aka the earliest stratum of Samuel, didn't either, a datum overlooked or ignored by Finkelstein and Silberman. "The Late Source" aka later strata of Samuel, added in the detail of Goliath's name. There is absolutely no difficulty with the basic story of David gaining fame by killing a huge Philistine champion in single combat.
Finkelstein & Silberman's Classical Greek fixation does not end with hoplites. In Appendix 6, they try manfully to make David's Pelethites into Greek Peltasts. Peltasts didn't come onto the scene until the Peloponnesian War, long after David's time. There is a much simpler and more widely accepted explanation: they were Philistines.
Despite the missteps, the book was very good. The authors did an excellent job of comparing current archaeological findings with the Biblical text. I would like to have seen the authors spend a little more time comparing those findings to current textual criticism of the Biblical text.
A FOOTNOTE: Since writing this review, I have come across evidence suggesting that Greek mercenaries were exported to Egypt around the time of David & Goliath. Barry Strauss, in his new book "The Trojan War, A New History," reports the finding of an Egyptian painting from the 1300-1200's BCE which depicts a battle scene that includes two Greek warriors wearing boar's tooth helmets. This tends to confirm my argument that Goliath was more likely to have been a Heroic Age Greek warrior than he was to have been a Classical Age Greek hoplite.