Dr. Israel Finkelstein was interviewed by David Cohen. The results of the interview were published in the May 31-June 6, 2008 issue of the magazine New Scientist (pages 46-47) under the title “Fact and fiction from the Bible.”
A New Scientist subscription is required. It is also available online at “Interview: Separating fact and fiction in the Bible.”
For the past ten years or so, Finkelstein had led of team of researchers involving biblical archaeology. Their goal was to determine if the Bible is really a historical document.
In their research, Finkelstein and his team studied biblical texts and compared them with archaeological evidence taken from Megiddo in northern Israel.
Megiddo, also known as Tel Megiddo (Hebrew) and Tell al-Mutesellim (Arabic), was a site known as Armageddon in the Bible. It is now the ruins of an ancient city state. Megiddo has been excavated by archaeologists since 1903 due to its historical, geographical, and theological importance.
Twenty-six layers of the ruins of ancient cities have been found at Megiddo. Today, in modern Israel, it is located at a hill near the Kibbutz of Megiddo, which is at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge that overlooks the Valley of Jezreel.
The Finkelstein team found that “... the traditional dating of many archaeological finds relating to biblical events is out by up to one-and-a-half centuries.”
Cohen writes, “His [Finkelstein's] conclusion is uncompromising: many famous biblical stories are probably pure fiction.”
For example, Cohen states in the article based with his conversation with Finkelstein that the “exodus of the Israelites from Egypt never happened” and “Joshua never attacked Jericho, let along brought its walls down.”
Finkelstein states, “There is no evidence that Jericho even had city walls at that time.”
The article goes on to say, “David and Solomon were not great kings who ruled over the ancient land of Canaan in the 10th century BC from a palace in Jerusalem, as the Bible portrays; at best they were minor chieftains of some small-time tribe in that area. Their memory was later inflated and mythologised in the 7th century BC to serve particular political and military agendas, he [Finkelstein] says.”
Obviously, his conclusions are not without controversy in many part of the world, especially in the religious community.
Please read on for additional information on Dr. Finkelstein and his controversial conclusions.
In the article, Cohen quotes Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Sam Wolff: “He [Finkelstein] has written more than anybody else in the field in the last 15 years. He’s done us a great service by questioning our traditional beliefs.” He goes on to say, “I can’t name more than a handful of archaeologists who accept his theory. It has made more waves in the popular media than it has in academic circles.”
Finkelstein has written many books. His latest, in 2006, with N.A. Silberman, is “David and Solomon, In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition.”
For additional information on Dr. Finkelstein, please go to:
Dan David Prize: “Israel Finkelstein”
Within the article by Tel Aviv University, the provider of the Dan David Prize, it states, “Israel Finkelstein is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the archaeology of the Levant and as a foremost applicant of archaeological knowledge to reconstructing biblical Israelite history. He excels at creatively forging links between archaeology and the exact sciences and he has revolutionized many of these fields, either by participating in research groups that study such issues or by contributing to them significantly.”
For additional information on Finkelstein and his statements about the Bible as a historical document, please read the following articles:
Aviva Lori (Haaretz newspaper)/Ralph W. Klein (Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.): “Grounds for disbelief”
The N T. Wrong Blog: “Israel Finkelstein Interviewed in New Scientist”
Many other articles, blogs, and other such information are out on the Web concerning Dr. Kinkelstein and his work.