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Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?
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Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  96 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In this study the author rejects both revisionists who insist that Biblical literature is no more than pious propaganda & conservatives who are afraid to question its factuality. Through investigation of archaeological evidence he seeks to approach the Biblical text & the external data with no preconceptions.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published 2003)
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Eric Wurm
Mar 09, 2014 Eric Wurm rated it it was amazing
William Dever seeks to analyze archaeology of the "Holy Land" from an objective basis. More than other authors on the topic, he seems to succeed in doing so. His analysis of the evidence suggests that the Biblical narrative was written by people who believed what they were writing but embellished certain aspects. However, just because people believed what they were writing doesn't make it true. The Judeo-Christian narrative is encompassed by documents that contain some truths, some probable fabr ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Sean rated it liked it
Good overview of the disparities between current archaeological perspectives about the early Israelites and the biblical text. While Dever doesn't seem overtly hostile to the biblical narratives, he does not find them supported by archaeology. There's some good review here of the (then) current state of archaeological research in Palestine, though a little too much academic "inside baseball" about various disputes and personalities. It's generally very readable for the non-specialist (like me). ...more
Dec 23, 2010 Ilya rated it liked it
A number of books on the Hebrew Bible have been published in the 1990s and the 2000s that claim that the early history of the Israelites is a fabrication; The Bible Unearthed by Finkelstein and Silberman is one, but others are much more extreme in their claims. The claims were eagerly picked up by assorted anti-Zionists and Palestinian nationalists; some of the latter claim that Bronze Age Canaanites are their direct ancestors; in 1996 some West Bank Palestinians reenacted a ceremony of worshipi ...more
Dave Diaspora
Jul 06, 2014 Dave Diaspora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, own
A very well-balanced and thought-provoking book on the origins of the Israelites. It raises a lot of serious questions to the general way I, and many others, have read the certain parts of the OT, while still being balanced. Dever uses the archaeological data as a primary source to see where it and the Old Testament literature "converge" in order to determine Israelite origins.
Sep 07, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
The title doesn't leave much room for doubt when it comes to the content of the book. An archaeological survey of what we know about the early Israelites and proposes an interpretation for the data that is highly compelling. Dever also does a good job in providing an overview of competing interpretations and why he disagrees with them. I found this book as it was highly referenced by Karen Armstrong in the Great Transformation (which I loved) and so I was already predisposed to Dever's interpret ...more
Sidney Davis
Apr 02, 2013 Sidney Davis rated it it was amazing
This takes a rather academic scholarly historical-critical approach to the of the Biblical narrative upon which the current historiography of the State of Israel is based. One will have to come face to face with the facts and with the fiction in the naked presentation and examination of the empirical evidences and the facts on the ground. One will have to decide whether the truth is better than the fiction.
Oct 05, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing
The "science" behind determining where the Bible and the "Jews" really came from is only emerging within the last 20 years or so. The results have ramifications that, if understood, would drastically alter the world-view of billions of people. The findings of this body of knowledge are too challenging and too hard to understand, however, and I think it will take a generation or two or three for people to catch up.
Aug 06, 2011 Keith added it
Mainly an updated take on archaeological finding and interpretations concerning the origins of Israel. If you're looking for something which confirms the full biblical narrative of the exodus, this wouldn't be the book for you. A good read, though i think the final verdict is still out and we are looking at an incomplete picture.
Mar 06, 2013 Marjorie rated it it was amazing
Well-written, thoughtful, and respectful study of the origins of the Tanach and the Jewish people. It will NOT be appreciated by fundamentalists and very Orthodox Jews. I found Dever's arguments persuasive.
Heath Workman
Jul 21, 2015 Heath Workman rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-nonfiction
Fascinating but dry. I'm glad I read this after Finkelstein's book since a significant portion of the book is a rebuttal to a lot of Finkelstein's ideas.
Wyatt Houtz
Feb 11, 2013 Wyatt Houtz rated it liked it
Helpful criticism of miller and hayes. Still deficient. Good discussion of archeology.
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