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The Bible and History

Course
Early Christianity
Lecture
1012 Lecture 11
Source
http://politeacademics.wordpress.com
Author
Theophyle
Original Date
July 13, 2010
SortOrder
015

Note: The lecture concerns the historicity of the Bible. In other words, it addresses in what ways the Bible is historically accurate; the extent to which it can it be used as a historic source and what qualifications should be applied. This is intended to represent the academic viewpoint, not a religious one.

Conservative religious views – Some people, especially those within Fundamentalist Christianity, hold that the Bible is literal truth, and is therefore inerrant and infallible. The Bible is therefore held to be historically accurate, even down to smallest details – although most allow for copyist errors. However, not all theological conservatives believe in Biblical inerrancy although this view is very prevalent among religious conservative individuals and scholars. All theological conservatives would agree the Bible is correct in its major historical claims and that not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally (for example, obvious cases of non-literal poetry).

In the field of science, those who believe in biblical inerrancy also hold the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis to be scientifically accurate and interpret the existing scientific evidence to be conflicting with the theory of evolution which is the nearly unanimously held scientific consensus on the matter (see: creation science). Among conventional scientists, creation science is considered a form of pseudoscience.

Some conservative Bible scholars include: Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, FF Bruce, Edwin M. Yamauchi, William F. Albright, Kenneth Kitchen, and Bryant G. Wood.

Liberal/moderate religious views and secular views - Many Christians and Jews prefer to stress the importance of the moral and religious values inculcated in the Bible, while its accuracy in terms of some or many of its historical details is not necessarily a key part of their faith. Religious writers and academics often refer to the creation stories as symbolic, allegorical, or intentionally simplified. Judaism in particular rejects the notion of solely literal interpretation of the Bible. Others say inaccuracies are indeed caused by some stories being passed down by word over the years before being written, like most legends. It should be noted, some Bibilical stories are said not to have happened historically according to Jewish tradition. The Talmud records opinions that state at least a good portion of the Hebrew Bible never happened and is just a parable. The Book of Job is one example, as according to Jewish tradition it was written by Moses and never historically happened.

Overview of academic views – Within the academic community, the main discussion revolves around how much weight to give the text of the Bible against counter-evidence or lack of evidence. Generally those giving more weight to the text of the Bible, assuming its correctness unless proven otherwise, and tending to interpret it literally, are called Biblical maximalists, while the opposing view is Biblical minimalism. The debate between the two sides is inextricably tied to how one views historiography: they disagree over how much weight documentary and indirect evidence should be given. Biblical maximalists view the Biblical narrative as a starting point for constructing the history, and correct or reinterpret it where it is contradicted by archaeological evidence. Biblical minimalists start purely from the archaeological evidence, and only consider Biblical accounts of value if they are corroborated by the archaeological evidence.

One of the reasons for the conflict between the maximalist and minimalist schools of thought is the amount of archaeological data found and the estimates of the potential amount of archaeological material found and worked on. Conservatives estimate that only about 2% of the potential archeological material has been found and worked on. Edwin M. Yamauchi in his work The Stones and the Scriptures summed up the conservative point of view when he wrote, “Historians of antiquity in using the archeological evidence have very often failed to realize how slight is the evidence at our disposal. It would not be exaggerating to point out that what we have is but one fraction of a second fraction of a third fraction of a fourth fraction of a fifth fraction of the possible evidence”. Yamauchi estimated in The Stones and the Scriptures that a generous estimate would be that 1/1000 of the archaeological material that once existed has actually been published. Minimalists, on the other hand, obviously argue a higher amount of archaeological material that once existed has been found and published. (Egyptologists excavating the Port city of Mendes, the village of Deir al-Medinah and the Valley of Kings estimate around 10%). Such low figures indicate minimalist and maximalists basing their arguments on the “final evidence,” rather than on the “focus”, of archaeology are both arriving at very hasty conclusions. Minimalist and maximalist both agree, however, that although the number of parties interested in Biblical archaeology has increased, the political instability and commercial development of the Biblical lands has hampered the collection of archaeological material.

As for any other written source, an educated weighting of the Biblical text requires knowledge of when it was written, by whom, and for what purpose. For example, most academics estimate that the Pentateuch was written somewhere between the 10th and the 6th centuries BCE. A popular hypothesis points to the reign of Josiah (7th century BCE). This topic is expanded upon in dating the Bible. This means that the events of, for example, Exodus happened centuries before they were written down, so one should be prepared – indeed one should expect – that telling and retelling through the centuries accentuated the tale, perhaps merged originally unrelated stories, and so on. Analysis of the text suggests that it was written in the Kingdom of Judah, and probably reflects the political ambitions of the kingdom or of the temple. Thus, for example, one should keep in mind that representing Judah and Israel as a unity throughout history, separated only “recently”, fitted in with Josiah’s political plans for the remnants of the Kingdom of Israel.

Finally, an important point to keep in mind is the documentary hypothesis, which claims that our current version was based on older written sources that were lost. (See documentary hypothesis for details.) Although it has been modified heavily over the years, most scholars accept some form of this hypothesis (the Vatican estimates 90% of scholars). There have also been and are scholars who reject it, including egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen and the late Umberto Cassuto and Gleason Archer, although most scholars rejecting it do so for religious reasons – Archer and Kitchen are devout conservative Christians (Archer was also a Pastor), while Cassuto was Chief Rabbi of Florence.

 

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament

Genesis – The Biblical creation story, up to and including the deluge, is generally regarded as not a literal account of events by most scientists and religious believers who reject literalistic Creationism. The arguments raised come from cosmology, geology, evolution (in particular fossil evidence), linguistics (in the case of the Babel myth) and textual analysis of the Bible itself— it is argued that this evidence indicates that the described events, if taken literally, are scientifically impossible.

The Patriarchs – The Patriarchs are Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, who are placed in the early 2nd millennium BCE by the dates given in Genesis. There is however no evidence for their historicity. According to archaeologist Amihai Mazar, several Biblical passages narrate realistic and detailed cultural traits of the 2nd millennium BCE, as corroborated by archeology. This is disputed by another archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein, who replies that these cultural traits can be found in the 1st millennium BCE as well.

c- Due to the fact that the personal names of the Pharaohs of Egypt never appear in the Bible and our present knowledge of ancient numismatics, the historicity of Israelite slavery or bondage and the escape of the Israelites from Egypt is a matter of conjecture. Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, is the first of the ancient Israelites to live in Egypt.

Looking for hints in the extensive Egyptian records, some scholars identify the Israelites with the Hyksos, Asian tribes that inhabited Egypt in the 17-16 centuries BCE. Others suggested the Apir which are mentioned occasionally between the 15th and 11th centuries BCE. The earliest known reference to “Israel” (c 1200BCE), is the “Victory Stele” (or “Merneptah Stele”, referred to erroneously as the “Israel Stele”) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah, in which among other victories it is recorded that “Israel is laid waste; his seed is not”. Egypt continued to rule the area until the 12th century BCE. Some researchers have speculated that the stories of Exodus simply reflect the liberation of Israel from the Egyptian yoke in the land of Israel as presented in the Merneptah Stele, although the validity of the Stele’s claims of victory is questionable. Supporting the idea, however, that Israel began as roving nomads as suggested in Exodus is Donald Redford, whose research indicates of a band of roving people- the Shasu- included among their number a Yahwistic group, providing a potential origin for the nation of Israel.

Some have attempted to relate various plagues to historic events, notably the volcanic eruption in Thera in the 17th century BCE, although this is generally seen as pseudoscience (Plagues of Egypt).

The number of Israelites stated in the Bible, 600,000 adult males, (Exodus 12:37) has been questioned -according to one calculation this figure equals or exceeds the lowest estimates for the period, and it would constitute a majority of Egyptians. The population of ancient Egypt is uncertain however: The record shows significant periodic movements by Asiatic populations in and out of Egypt, in particular retreating to the fertile Egyptian delta in times of drought. Researchers however differ widely in their opinion on the true number.

Joshua – Jericho and other settlements do show signs of violent disruption at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, an event common throughout early history in the area, and which most scholars associate specifically with the power vacuum left by the fall of Hyksos in Egypt. In particular the remains of destroyed walls at Jericho have been found. They date to sometime in the mid-second millennium BCE and may have been destroyed by a siege or an earthquake. Opinions differ as to whether they are the walls referred to in the Bible. The walls were originally dated by John Garstang to c. 1400 BCE. Kathleen Kenyon excavated Jericho from 1952-1958 using improved methods of stratigraphy. She dated the city by the absence of a type of imported pottery common to the era around 1400 BCE, and concluded that the ruins of the walls dated to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, around 1550 BCE.

More recently Bryant G. Wood published an article in Biblical Archaeological Review stating there were serious problems with Kenyon’s conclusions and that Garstang’s original dating was correct. Garstang and Wood’s date is consistent with the dating of Joshua used by many Christian Bible scholars. Wood argues that that the archaeological data supports a Jericho invasion around 1400 BCE consistent with the book of Joshua. However archaeological evidence shows no large population increase at the time. (The population is estimated to have been between 50,000 and 100,000). Wood however argues that there is archaeological data which correlated with the Biblical narrative. Wood’s redating is not accepted by most scholars, and the standard cited date for the destruction of the walls is still Kenyon’s date.

In addition the earliest archaeological evidence of a recognizably Israelite presence dates to the 13th century BCE. While this date is in conflict with that dating of Joshua by Christian Bible scholars it is however in agreement with the traditional Jewish dating.

United Monarchy - Since the discovery of a 9th century BCE inscription at Tel Dan apparently referring to the “house of David” as a monarchic dynasty, it is more common to assume David was a real historical figure. However, a heated debate extends as to whether the united monarchy, the vast empire of King Solomon, and the rebellion of Jeroboam ever existed, or whether they are a late fabrication. Proponents of this theory point to the fact that the division of the land into two entities, centered at Jerusalem and Shechem, goes back to the Egyptian rule of Israel in the New Kingdom. Solomon’s empire is said to have stretched from the Euphrates in the north to the Red Sea in the south; it would have required a large commitment of men and arms and a high level of organization to conquer, subdue, and govern this area. But there is little archeological evidence of Jerusalem being a sufficiently large city in the 10th century BCE (although a recent discovery might change that), and Judah seems to be sparsely settled in that time period. Since Jerusalem has been destroyed and then subsequently rebuilt approximately 15 to 20 times since the time of David and Solomon, much of the evidence could easily have been destroyed; still, evidence from the Middle Bronze Age and later in the Iron Age has been found in the city. The conquests of David and Solomon are not mentioned in contemporary histories (which are rather meager, since other empires were in decline at the time), which admittedly is an argument from silence. Moreover the Biblical account makes no claim that they directly governed the areas included in their empires which are portrayed instead as tributaries.

Later kings -It is generally assumed that the Biblical account of the history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, as presented in the Books of Kings, is historical, even if not unbiased. Archeological evidence and chronologies of neighboring countries have corroborated the general picture presented in the Bible, although not every detail. For example, the existence of King Ahab is corroborated in Assyrian chronology, where he is mentioned as having participated in the Battle of Karkar. King Omri of Israel is mentioned in the Mesha Stele. Many later kings who paid tribute to Assyria are mentioned in Assyrian records.

The Exile and after – The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which document the return from exile in the Persian period, are generally seen as fairly reliable history by most scholars, although there is little corroboration from outside sources. The Book of Daniel, which purports to tell the story of the Jewish prophet Daniel who lives in Babylon from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to that of Cyrus, is thought to date from Hellenistic times, and to contain mainly fictional elements within an historical setting. Traditionalists continue to defend its historicity and note, for instance, that Belshazzar, described as King of Babylon just before the Persian conquest in Daniel, and long considered to be a fanciful creation of Daniel’s author, has been discovered to be the son and co-regent of Nabonidus, the last King of Babylon. The historicity of the Book of Esther, which tells of the beautiful and virtuous Esther, a Jewish woman who becomes the queen of King Ahasuerus of Persia and saves the Jews from destruction at the hands of their enemies at court, has also been questioned by many although the initial arguments against it which attempted to relate it to Babylonian and Elamite mythology have subsequently been overturned.

 

New Testament

Biblical historical accuracy, surviving texts and the formation of the New Testament – A large debate revolves around the question of the original source of the Bible: divinely inspired, or created by man? Both sides have produced passionate arguments, but when dealing with the so-called supernatural, and the ill-documented, remote ancient past this is extremely difficult. Also past literary forms, particularly the ancient practice of teaching theology in story form, make it even more complex to prove the occurrence of many actual events. Ancient records that have survived may be accounts of fictional or actual events, and it is often extremely difficult to come to a definitive conclusion. Even contemporary events can be subject to multiple, and contradictory interpretations.

To determine the textual accuracy of a copied manuscript, textual critics scrutinize the way the transcripts have passed through history to their later forms. There are no original documents. The higher the volume of the earliest texts (and their parallels to each other ), the greater the textual reliability and the less chance that the transcript’s content has been changed over the years. There are more than minor (copiest errors, spelling, etc.) differences. (These problems also arise in the earliest surviving texts of the Old Testament books, as shown by the Dead Sea Scrolls).

The New Testament was originally written in Greek, of which 5,650 handwritten copies have survived. When other languages are included, the total of ancient copies approaches 25,000. The next “ancient” text to come close to rivaling that number is Homer’s Iliad which has survived and was copied 643 times. Recognizing this, renowned professor F. E. Peters remarked that “on the basis of manuscript tradition alone, the works that make up the Christians’ New Testament texts were the most frequently copied and widely circulated [surviving] books of antiquity”. (This may be due to their preservation, popularity, and distribution brought about by the ease of naval travel and the many roads constructed during the time of the Roman Empire). Still at the time of Constantine the Great, only 10% of the Roman Empire were Christian. During this time Eusebius records, by the authority of a list written by Irenaeus in the first part of the second century, it is decided there are only four gospels which have preserved the true apostolic tradition. (Irenaeus writes four is a magical and complete number, etc.) The many other gospels that exist are Gnostic heresy and false. The whole collection of books which constituted the New Testament was formally defined in 382 at the Council of Rome. The collection of books, also known as the Canon, was informally established prior to the Council of Rome, which is evidenced by the Council making reference to it already being known and used. One of the functions of the Council of Rome in 382 was to formally declare and establish the Canon of the Bible.

Historicity of Christian beliefs – The historicity, teachings and nature of Jesus are currently debated among Biblical scholars. The earliest New Testament texts which refer to him, Paul’s letters, are usually dated from the mid-first century. Paul himself had seen Jesus only in visions; but he claimed they were divine revelations and hence authoritative. Most modern scholars hold that the works describing Jesus (primarily the Gospel accounts) were initially communicated by oral tradition and were not finally committed to writing until several decades after the crucifixion. It is therefore believed that these texts may not have retained the same level of historical accuracy as they might have, had they been direct first-hand accounts actually written during or soon after the life of Jesus. At the other end of the spectrum are Christian historians who have been very favorable to the Christian claim of the resurrection – scholars such as Thomas Arnold and NT Wright. The exact level of the historical accuracy contained in these texts is debated, however most scholars agree that the actual existence of a historical Jesus is probable.

Historicity of Christian traditions – Some scholars maintain the Jesus we know from the Bible today has many elements that come from the mystery cults.

It has been suggested that this process of assimilation is similar to the way in which peoples in Latin America and Africa have often incorporated elements of their traditional faiths into their newly-adopted Christianity. The New Testament (written in Greek) indicates that the largest amount of early Christians came from the conversion of pagan gentiles. They retained many of their religious practices, singing, the playing of music, art etc. It is recorded pagan art took on alternate interpretations, especially in the fourth centuries.  They also point out that even in European traditions, such fundamentals as the traditional celebrations of the date of Jesus’ birth (midnight 24 December) and resurrection (Easter) are taken from pre-existing pagan practices (the winter solstice and the fertility rites of the goddess Eostre). Still these are not adopted, or known to be practiced by Christians till the second century. Followers of the “mythicist” school of thought, most noteably Earl Doherty, argue that the earliest Christians, including Paul, did not believe in an earthly Jesus and that the Gospels were originally allegorical stories in the same vein as Jewish Midrashic fables built from imagery taken from Old Testament verses.

Marginal views – Popular writers such as Immanuel Velikovsky, Donovan Courville and others believe that the lack of archeological attestation of biblical figures is due to errors in the traditional chronology or the dating of archaeological strata. Velikovsky’s theories were rejected outright by the scientific community and refuted in detail. More recent theories, notably those of Egyptologists David Rohl and Peter James are viewed with cautious interest by the scientific community but have not gained widespread acceptance. Indeed, a re-dating on the order of 300 years, as they proposed, is strongly rejected by leading Egyptologists and Assyriologists, notably Prof. Kenneth Kitchen.

 

Schools of archaeological and historical thought

There are two loosely defined historical schools of thought with regard to the historicity of the Bible, biblical minimalism and biblical maximalism, as well as a non-historical method of reading the Bible, the traditional religious reading of the Bible.

Note that historical opinions fall on a spectrum, rather than in two tightly defined camps. Since there is a wide range of opinions regarding the historicity of the Bible, it should not be surprising that any given scholar may have views that fall anywhere between these two loosely defined camps.

Biblical minimalism – “It is hard to pinpoint when the movement started, but 1968 seems to be a reasonable date. During this year, two prize winning essays were written in Copenhagen, one by [Niels Peter] Lemche, the other by [Heike] Friis, which advocated a complete rethinking of the way we approach the Bible and attempt to draw historical conclusions from it” (George Athas, “‘Minimalism’: The Copenhagen School of Thought in Biblical Studies,” edited transcript of lecture, 3rd ed., University of Sydney, April 29, 1999;).

In published books, one of the early advocates of the current school of thought known as Biblical minimalism is Giovanni Garbini, Storia e ideologia nell’Israele antico (1986), translated into English as History and Ideology in Ancient Israel (1988). In his footsteps followed Thomas L. Thompson with his lengthy Early History of the Israelite People: From the Written & Archaeological Sources (1992) and, building explicitly on Thompson’s book, P. R. Davies’ shorter work, In Search of ‘Ancient Israel’ (1992). In the latter, Davies finds historical Israel only in archaeological remains, Biblical Israel only in Scripture, and “ancient Israel” to be an unacceptable amalgam of the two. Thompson and Davies see the entire Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as the imaginative creation of a small community of Jews at Jerusalem during the period which the Bible assigns to after the return from the Babylonian exile, 539 BCE onward. Niels Peter Lemche, Thompson’s fellow faculty member at the University of Copenhagen, also followed with several titles that show Thompson’s influence, including The Israelites in history and tradition (1998). The presence of both Thompson and Lemche at the same institution has led to the use of the term “Copenhagen school” as a designation for those who advocate their radical version of Biblical minimalism.

Biblical minimalists generally hold that the Bible is an imaginative fiction, and all stories within it are of a metaphorical character. None of the early stories are held to have a solid historical basis, and only some of the later stories possess at most only a few tiny fragments of genuine historical memory—which by their definition are only those points which are supported by archaeological discoveries. In this view, all of the stories about the Biblical patriarchs are fictional, and the patriarchs never existed. Further, Biblical minimalists hold that the twelve tribes of Israel never existed, King David and King Saul never existed, and that the united kingdom of Israel, which the Bible says that David and Solomon ruled, never existed.

Biblical maximalism – The term “maximalism” is something of a misnomer, and many people incorrectly relate this to Biblical inerrancy. Most maximalists, however, are not Biblical inerrantists.

Most Biblical maximalists accept many findings of modern historical studies and archaeology and agree that one needs to be cautious in teasing out the true from the false in the Bible. However, maximalists hold that the core stories of the Bible indeed tell us about actual historical events, and that the later books of the Bible are more historically based than the earlier books.

Archaeology tells us about historical eras and kingdoms, ways of life and commerce, beliefs and societal structures; however only in extremely rare cases does archaeological research provide information on individual families. Thus, archaeology was not expected to, and indeed has not, provided any evidence to confirm or deny the existence of the Biblical patriarchs. As such, Biblical maximalists are divided on this issue. Some hold that many or all of these patriarchs were real historical figures, but that we should not take the Bible’s stories about them as historically accurate, even in broad strokes. Others hold that it is likely that some or all of these patriarchs are better classified as fictional creations, with only the slightest relation to any real historical persons in the distant past.

Biblical maximalists agree that the twelve tribes of Israel did indeed exist, even though they do not necessarily believe the Biblical description of their origin. Biblical maximalists are in agreement that important biblical figures, such as King David and King Saul did exist, that the Biblical kingdoms of Israel also existed, and that Jesus was a historical figure.

Note, however, there is a wide array of positions that one can hold within this school, and some in this school overlap with biblical minimalists. As noted above, historical opinions fall on a spectrum, rather than in two tightly defined camps.

Increasing conflict between the maximalist and minimalist schools – In 2001, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman published the book The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts which advocated a view midway toward Biblical minimalism and caused an uproar among many conservatives. However, the 25th anniversary issue of Biblical Archeological Review (March/April 2001 edition), editor Hershel Shanks quoted several mainstream archaeologists and biblical scholars who insisted that minimalism is now dying.  In 2003, Kenneth Kitchen, a staunch maximalist, authored the book On the Reliability of the Old Testament . Kitchen advocated the reliability of the Old Testament and in no uncertain terms criticizes the work of Finkelstein and Silberman. In the short term, there are no signs the intensity of the debate between the minimalist and maximalist scholars will diminish.

Writing about scholars who ‘are completely deaf and blind to clear evidence’, Jennifer Wallace describes the view of archaeologist Israel Finkelstein in her article Shifting Ground in the Holy Land, appearing in Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006:

He [Finkelstein] cites the fact – now accepted by most archaeologists – that many of the cities Joshua is supposed to have sacked in the late 13th century BC had ceased to exist by that time. Hazor was destroyed in the middle of that century, Ai was abandoned before 2000 BC Even Jericho, where Joshua is said to have brought the walls tumbling down by circling the city seven times with blaring trumpets, was destroyed in 1500 BC Now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the Jericho site consists of crumbling pits and trenches that testify to a century of fruitless digging.

However maximalists typically place Joshua in the mid second millennium not the 13th century as Finkelstein claims, and view the destruction layers of the period as corroboration of the Biblical account. The destruction of Hazor in the mid 13th century is seen as corroboration of the Biblical account of the later destruction carried out by Deborah and Barak as recorded in the Book of Judges. The location that Finkelstein refers to as “Ai” is generally dismissed as the Biblical Ai as it was destroyed and buried in the 3rd millennium and would not have been known to the author of Joshua.

Biblical archaeology is sometimes politically controversial, especially when it touches on the United Monarchy period, as some Israelis seek to use the existence of the Kingdom as support for a Greater Israel today. Arguments against the historicity of the Kingdom (or perhaps an existence in a smaller and less impressive form), or against the historicity of a recognisable Exodus, can lead to charges of anti-Semitism, for example from Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Bibliography:

– Biran, Avraham. “‘David’ Found at Dan.” Biblical Archaeology Review 20:2 (1994): 26-39.
 – Cassuto, Umberto. The documentary hypothesis and the composition of the Pentateuch: eight lectures by U. Cassuto. Translated from the Hebrew by Israel Abrahams. Pp. xii, 117. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1961
 – Coogan, Michael D. “Canaanites: Who Were They and Where Did They Live?” Bible Review 9:3 (1993): 44ff. 
 – Davies, Philip R. 1992, 2nd edition 1995, reprinted 2004.In Search of ‘Ancient Israel’ . Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 
–  Dawood, N.J. 1978. Tales from the Arabian Nights, Doubleday, A delightful children’s version translated from the original Arabic.
– Finkelstein, Israel and Silberman, Neil A. 2001 The Bible Unearthed. New York: Simon and Schuster 
–  Garbini, Giovanni. 1988. History and Ideology in Ancient Israel. Translated by John Bowden from the original Italian edition. New York: Crossroad.
– Harpur, Tom. 2004. “The Pagan Christ. Recovering the Lost Light” Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto.
– Kitchen, Kenneth A. 2003 On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 
–  Lemche, Niels P. 1998. The Israelites in History and Tradition London : SPCK ; Louisville, Ky. : Westminster John Knox Press. 
–  Mazar, Amihai. 1992. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000-586 B.C.E. New York: Doubleday. 
–  Na’aman, Nadav. 1996 .”The Contribution of the Amarna Letters to the Debate on Jerusalem’s Political Position in the Tenth Century BCE” BASOR. 304: 17-27. 
–  Na’aman, Nadav. 1997 “Cow Town or Royal Capital: Evidence for Iron Age Jerusalem.” Biblical Archaeology Review. 23, no. 4: 43-47, 67.
– Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies. Manchester U. Press, 1975.
– Shanks, Hershel. 1995. Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography. New York: Random House. 
– Shanks, Hershel. 1997 “Face to Face: Biblical Minimalists Meet Their Challengers.” Biblical Archaeology Review. 23, no. 4: 26-42, 66. 
– Steiner, Margareet and Jane Cahill. “David’s Jerusalem: Fiction or Reality?” Biblical Archaeology Review 24:4 (1998): 25-33, 62-63; 34-41, 63. This article presents a debate between a Biblical minimalist and a Biblical maximalist. 
–  Thomas L. Thompson. 1999. The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past. London. 
– ________. 1992. The Early History of the Israelite People: From the Written and Archaeological Sources. Leiden and New York: Brill. 
– William G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2001 
– Wood, Bryant G., “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence,” Biblical Archaeological Review 16(2) (March/April 1990): 44-58. 
– Yamauchi, Edwin, The Stones and the Scriptures. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1972.