Archaeology and the Bible/Torah/Tanakh

Total Posts:  25
Joined  05-10-2007
17 January 2009 15:46

The following quotes mention some of the myriad issues that led me to leave the Christian faith in which I was raised. It has been a very interesting journey from faith to atheism. I actually find the fact that I used to believe the unbelievable rather amusing. Our human foibles are interesting indeed.

  “ archaeological analysis of the patriarchal, conquest, judges, and United Monarchy narratives [shows] that while there is no compelling archaeological evidence for any of them, there is clear archaeological evidence that places the stories themselves in a late 7th-century BCE context.”

  “ archaeological reconstruction of the distinct histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, highlighting the largely neglected history of the Omride Dynasty and attempting to show how the influence of Assyrian imperialism in the region set in motion a chain of events that would eventually make the poorer, more remote, and more religiously conservative kingdom of Judah the belated center of the cultic and national hopes of all Israel.” -Silberman and Finkelstein

  “Solomon ... in the eyes of Israelite historians, marked the apex of Israelite achievement. Curiously, no reference to him or his father David, or their empire in a non-Israelite source is known ... ” – Isserlin (The Israelites, p72)

“Monumental structures once attributed to the building activities of Solomon in the cities of Megiddo, Gezer and Hazor have been shown over the years to date from various archaeological periods spanning centuries.” – Rohl (A Test of Time, p34)

‘Neither Moses, nor an enslaved Israel nor the event of this Exodus are recorded in any known ancient records outside the Bible ...

Although its climate has preserved the tiniest traces of ancient bedouin encampments and the sparse 5000-year-old villages of mine workers there is not a single trace of Moses or the Israelites.’ – John Romer, Testament, pp57/8.

  “Damascus reached its zenith during the reign of Hazael ... Transjordanian regions were overrun ... Hazael was able to cross Israelite territory to progress down the coastal plain to take Gath in Philistia ...

  In fact, Hazael appears to have established an empire or sphere of influence not unlike that ascribed to David.”  – B.S.J. Isserlin (The Israelites, p86)

“The desire to read the letters bytdvd as house of david is ... a classic example of scholars working backwards from the Bible rather than forwards from the evidence.”
– M. Sturgis, It Ain’t Necessarily So, p129.

“‘Ur of the Chaldees’ in Genesis is clearly an anachronistic reference … ‘Chaldaeans’ did not appear in Mesopotamia until the 7th century BC.” – Magnus Magnusson, The Archaeology of the Bible Lands-BC, pp 31,206.

“One of the curious features of the book of Genesis is the absence of any reference to what is going on in the ancient Near East during the second millennium BC.” – S Hooke – Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, p 188.

“Ur was Sumerian and had no connection with the people known as the Chaldaeans until a thousand years after any possible date to which Abraham can be attributed.” – M. Grant, The History of Ancient Israel, p32.

  ‘Instead of splitting the carcass of a sea-monster to create the world, as Marduk did, Yahweh divided the Sea of Reeds to let his people escape from Pharaoh and the pursuing army. Instead of slaying the demonic hordes, like Marduk, Yahweh drowned the Egyptians.’  (K. Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem, p31)

“In the fantasy ‘history’ (chapter 1 of the Book of Numbers) 603,550 ‘males of military age’ fled Egypt at the time of the Exodus, which implies a refugee army of at least two million – more than the total population of Egypt itself! And this multitude supposedly wandered the wilderness for forty years, contriving to leave not a trace of their passing for posterity.”

  “Despite the mass of contemporary records that have been unearthed in Egypt, not one historical reference to the presence of the Israelites has yet been found there. Not a single mention of Joseph, the Pharaoh’s ‘Grand Vizier’. Not a word about Moses, or the spectacular flight from Egypt and the destruction of the pursuing Egyptian army.”  Magnus Magnusson (The Archaeology of the Bible Lands - BC, p43)

“So anachronistic and inconsistent ... are the profuse legends that have gathered round the figures of the patriarchs that it cannot even be stated for certain that they ever existed at all ...

In any case, the existences and traditions of these patriarchs seem to have been originally quite separate from one another and unrelated.” – M. Grant, The History of Ancient Israel, p30.

“The archaeological evidence in Jerusalem for the famous building projects of Solomon is nonexistent.
19th and early 20th century excavations around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem failed to identify even a trace of Solomon’s fabled Temple or palace complex.” (Finkelstein, Silberman, p128)

“The scientific position is clear. There is no evidence of any kind for the existence of Abraham (supposedly the Israelites’ founding patriarch), Moses, or Solomon. At the time of the Exodus,  Canaan —the Promised Land to which the Israelites were fleeing—was ruled and firmly controlled by the very Egypt from which they were trying to escape.

The conquest of Canaan by Joshua could not have happened in the way described in the Bible. Most of the towns he is supposed to have conquered either weren’t inhabited, didn’t exist or were conquered at wildly different times.

Jerusalem, which was supposed to have become the capital of the great unified empire of King David (he of David and Goliath fame), appears to have been tiny and only sparsely inhabited in the relevant period. Many of the great monuments of ancient Israel attributed on the authority of the Old Testament to King Solomon were of a later date.

Excavations of early Israelite settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan since the 1967 Six Day War have suggested strongly that the Israelites were in fact of local Canaanite stock.

They were probably desert nomads who took to hill farming for economic reasons, and developed into two kingdoms—a northern one called Israel, and a southern called Judah. The Bible reflects the slightly differing traditions of the two kingdoms, and when the north collapsed in the 8th century BC and its people fled south, an attempt was made through written texts to unify and reconcile both peoples. Thus the Old Testament began to take shape.

The Bible says the Israelites first began to worship one God in the time of Moses. But in fact, the Israelites from both north and south were actually polytheistic, and the process of monotheism didn’t begin till many centuries after that supposed time.

This followed from the centralisation of cult worship in Jerusalem ordered by the king, as a way of rallying the people, and it became focussed on a local Israelite deity, Yahweh (or as we know him, Jehovah).”

“The Yoash stone, named after a ruler of the ancient Hebrew kingdom of Judah, was cited as possibly the strongest historical evidence of the biblical account of the First Temple, built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. and destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C. The stone’s inscription gives instructions in ancient Hebrew for maintaining the Temple.

The Israeli authorities said Wednesday that Mr. Golan, working through intermediaries, had been behind both the burial box and the Yoash stone.

Israeli officials received a tip questioning the authenticity of the Yoash stone two years ago and began an investigation that kept expanding, according to Mr. Dorfman, the Antiquities Authority head. The authority announced in June 2003 that James’s burial box and the Yoash stone were forgeries.

The criminal charges filed Wednesday were the first in the case, and they came just days after the Israel Museum said an independent panel had concluded that the ivory pomegranate, which it bought in 1988 from an unknown seller by depositing half a million dollars in a Swiss bank account, was not authentic.

The pomegranate is believed to date back 3,400 years, but its inscription was added recently, the museum said. The Wednesday indictments cited the pomegranate as an example of a high-profile forgery, but did not charge any of the four suspects with counterfeiting it.”

[ Edited: 16 December 2011 03:25 by Nhoj Morley]
Total Posts:  70
Joined  09-12-2008
19 January 2009 04:51

Nice post Cooper.  I find the OT to be the most fascinating part of the bible.  I know most people tend to focus on the NT and Jesus when trying to disprove the existence of god.  However, I believe that the key is the OT.  Without the validity of the OT, there is no Jesus or Christianity. Well, there shouldn’t be.  What I can’t understand is how Christians today can so readily dismiss the OT as being irrelevant to what they believe today! The Christians today have essentially created a new religion based solely on the NT.  They have completely dismissed the god of the OT when the god of the OT is what Jesus believed in and supposedly was the son of, according to the gospels.  It’s amazing to me how Christians keep changing the rules of their religion in order to make it more palatable to the masses.

abele derer
abele derer
Total Posts:  1
Joined  12-05-2011
12 May 2011 11:15

I am not sure how I’m supposed to respond to Cooper’s post. Essentially, it comes down to an argument from authority, since he refuses to cite any of their arguments; he just cites their conclusions. If all you have is an argument from authority, then you don’t really have anything interesting to add. Furthermore, there are many respected archeologists who find that the archeological record supports the biblical account: James K. Hoffemeir, Kenneth Kitchen and others. Did you ever read, for example, Kitchens’ “On the Reliability of the Old Testament”? If not, then you are only exposing yourself to half of the story.

Second, its highly doubtful that archeology can prove a negative. Indeed, the city of Damascus—which existed as early as 2000 B.C according to Egyptian manuscripts—hasn’t left a shred of evidence (the earliest finding has been an idol dated to 900 B.C.) Sorry, but I’m a bit more skeptical than Cooper is.

James Clovispoint
James Clovispoint
Total Posts:  77
Joined  25-07-2011
17 September 2011 07:43

Very nice article and interesting points. I would like to add a few of my own, humbly. There is much to be said, so I may make several entries to avoid long and exhausting text.

From the information I gathered on a TV documentary, it appears that so-called Israeli archaeologists rebury human remains in a common, unmarked pit, after having discovered them. Oddly enough, they preserve and store the small stone urns that contained the bones. This is a religious duty, it seems, but certainly not scientific by any means. This deserves verification though. This means that even if they came across (which may have happened), the skeleton of Jesus himself, science would be cheated out of studying his bones and DNA, etc.

Secondly, The Bible does not contain, to my knowledge, the slightest corroborated calendar date, anywhere. This, by itself, keeps the OT and the NT from being an historic reference.

Thirdly, even if archaeological evidence supports some mentions of events and people, it would only go to show that those who wrote it, placed the events within their historical and physical environment. Even fiction novels like those of Jules Verne have many references to existing cities and people of the environment of Verne’s times.

And finally, even if archaeologists discovered Jesus’ birth certificate tomorrow, it would still remain to prove that what the NT says about him is accurate and true.

James Clovispoint
James Clovispoint
Total Posts:  77
Joined  25-07-2011
18 September 2011 05:43

As a complementary entry to my previous post, I am submitting this poem that summarizes several related points.
The title is, HOLY HEARSAY.
I do hope that the format will not be jumbled by this program.

Holy Hearsay

Is there a quantum theory
Through which a god speaks straightaway
From a distant infinity
To any man on Earth today?
How dare some give His attributes,
Proclaiming things no one can see?
“He has a beard and wears some boots”.
This is really pure fantasy.

Religions books are all empty
Of anything that would make sense.
Is there even one deity?
We are left sitting on the fence.
These scriptures are a false pretense
Without some authenticity
And legends are a poor defense.
Scriptures have no validity.

Nowhere will you find in scriptures
But one verifiable date,
No chronological measures,
No facts that would help validate.
No credentials for their authors,
Writing decades after Christ’s death,
No birthdates, mothers or fathers,
Could they be precise to one breath?

The words of Jesus are a quiz,
Who could have known what he said then,
When in Gethsemane he is,
All were asleep even his men?

James Clovispoint
Dec 2009

Total Posts:  29
Joined  10-07-2012
29 September 2012 08:45

The OT starts to make historical sense from the 10thC onwards (we have a seal from the House of Dadu - ie David) although they bigged up Solomon as in the early iron age he could only have been a pretty poor tribal leader. We start seeing synchronisms with Assyrian and Babylonian history from 8th century onwards. The Exodus story is a conventional ‘birth of a nation tale’ most ancient peoples had them and they are all made up (Romulus and Remus etc). The Exodus purports to be dated in the bronze age during the Egyptian New Kingdom and there were Asiatic populations in Egypt at the time. There are many problems with the story; first the Asiatic populations in Egypt were not slaves and indeed there has never been any evidence to suggest large scale slavery every existed in Egypt; second as stated previously the Levant was part of the Egyptian ‘empire’ at the time so it would be out of the frying pan into the fire and third the biggest problem Egypt had was keeping people out, everyone wanted to share the good life it would seem, no one would voluntary leave the land of agricultural plenty to scrabble a poor existence in the foothills of the Levant.