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Orders of $25.00 or more will be shipped our Standard Shipping option and the shipping is completely FREE. In this landmark two-hour special, NOVA takes viewers on a scientific journey that began 3,000 years ago and continues today.
In addition to the Editors' Picks at left, see the original program website for more related features. NARRATOR: For out of the crucible of destruction emerges a sacred book, the Bible, and an idea that will change the world, the belief in one God.
NARRATOR: Now, a provocative new story from discoveries deep within the Earth and the Bible.
EILAT MAZAR (Shalem Center): We wanted to examine the possibility that the remains of King David's palace are here.
NARRATOR: An archaeological detective story puzzles together clues to the mystery of who wrote the Bible, when and why.
NARRATOR: And, from out of the Earth, emerge thousands of idols that suggest God had a wife.
AMIHAI MAZAR (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): We just found this exceptional clay figurine showing a fertility goddess.
NARRATOR: Powerful evidence sheds new light on how one people, alone among ancient cultures, finally turn their back on idol worship to find their one god.
NARRATOR: Now, science and scripture converge to create a powerful new story of an ancient people, God and the Bible. NARRATOR: Near the banks of the Nile, in southern Egypt, in 1896, British archaeologist Flinders Petrie, leads an excavation in Thebes, the ancient city of the dead. Dedicated in honor of Pharaoh Merneptah, son of Ramesses the Great, it became known as the Merneptah Stele.
DONALD REDFORD (Pennsylvania State University): This stele is what the ancient Egyptians would have called a triumph stele, a victory stele, commemorating victory over foreign peoples.
NARRATOR: Most of the hieroglyphic inscription celebrates Merneptah's triumph over Libya, his enemy to the West, but almost as an afterthought, he mentions his conquest of people to the East, in just two lines. DONALD REDFORD: This is priceless evidence for the presence of an ethnical group called Israel in the central highlands of southern Canaan. The ancient Israelites are best known through familiar stories that chronicle their history: Abraham and Isaac, Moses and the Ten Commandments, David and Goliath.
This belief will become the foundation of two other great monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam. Often called the Old Testament, to distinguish it from the New Testament, which describes the events of early Christianity, today the Hebrew Bible and a belief in one God are woven into the very fabric of world culture. Now, archaeologists and biblical scholars are arriving at a new synthesis that promises to reveal not only fresh historical insights but a deeper meaning of what the authors of the Bible wanted to convey.
WILLIAM DEVER: You cannot afford to ignore the biblical text, especially if you can isolate a kind of kernel of truth behind these stories and then you have the archaeological data. NARRATOR: According to the Bible, this promise establishes the covenant, a sacred contract between God and Abraham. In return, Abraham and his people, who will become the Israelites, must worship a single god. NARRATOR: It is hard to appreciate today how radical an idea this must have been in a world dominated by polytheism, the worship of many gods and idols. The Abraham narrative is part of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, along with Noah and the flood, and Adam and Eve.
DAVID ILAN (Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion): The farther back you go in the biblical text, the more difficult it is to find historical material in it. NARRATOR: This absence of historical evidence leads scholars to take a different approach to reading the biblical narrative. MICHAEL COOGAN (Stonehill College): The view that Moses had personally written down the first five books of the Bible was virtually unchallenged until the 17th century. MICHAEL COOGAN: For example, how many of each species of animals is Noah supposed to bring into the ark? NARRATOR: In one chapter, the Bible says the flood lasts for 40 days and 40 nights, but in the next it says 150 days. Many similar discrepancies, throughout its pages, suggest that the Bible has more than one writer.
MICHAEL COOGAN: One way of thinking about it is as a kind of anthology that was made, over the course of many centuries, by different people adding to it, subtracting from it and so forth.
NARRATOR: Tel Zayit is a small site on the southwestern border of ancient Israel that dates back to biblical times.
RON TAPPY: As I was taking aerial photographs from the cherry picker, a volunteer notified his square supervisor that he thought he had seen some interesting marks, scratches, possibly letters incised in a stone. NARRATOR: Letters would be a rare find, so when he kneeled to look at the marks, Tappy got the surprise of a lifetime. RON TAPPY: As I bent down over the stone, I immediately saw very clear, very distinct letters.
KYLE MCCARTER: What was found was not a random scratching of two or three letters, it was the full alphabet.
KYLE MCCARTER: The Hebrew Bible is a collection of literature written over about a thousand years, and, as with any other language, Hebrew, naturally, changed quite a bit over those thousand years. NARRATOR: Scholars examine the Bible in its original Hebrew in search of the most archaic language, and therefore the oldest passages. VOICEOVER (Reading from the Bible, "Revised Standard Version," Exodus 15:4) Pharaoh's chariots and his army He cast into the sea. NARRATOR: This passage, known as the "Song of the Sea," is the climactic scene of Exodus, the story of the Israelites enslavement in Egypt and how Moses leads them to freedom. LAWRENCE STAGER (Harvard University): It's very likely that it was a kind of story, told in poetic form, that you might tell around the campfire. NARRATOR: Because the poetry in Exodus is so ancient, is it possible the story has some historical core? Here, in the eastern Nile Delta of Egypt, in a surreal landscape of fallen monuments and tumbled masonry, archaeologists have uncovered a lost city. Ancient Egyptian texts call the city Pi-Ramesse, or House of Ramesses, a name that resonates with the biblical story of Exodus.
MICHAEL COOGAN: The only specific item mentioned in the Exodus story that we can probably connect with non-biblical material is the cities that the Hebrews were ordered to build, and they are named Pithom and Ramesses. NARRATOR: Scholars agree that the biblical city Ramesses is the ancient Egyptian city Pi-Ramesse. MANFRED BIETAK (Austrian Academy of Sciences): Most of the Egyptologists identified Pi-Ramesse, the Ramesses town, with Tanis, because here you have an abundance of Ramesside monuments. NARRATOR: This convergence between archaeology and the Bible provides a timeframe for the Exodus. The Bible says the Israelites leave Egypt in a mass migration, 600,000 men and their families, and then wander in the desert for 40 years. WILLIAM DEVER: No excavated site gives us any information about the route of the wandering through the wilderness.
Perhaps it is for the same reason its message remains powerful to this day: its inspiring theme of freedom. NARRATOR: Following the Exodus, the Bible says God finally delivers the Israelites to the Promised Land, Canaan. The Canaanites, a thriving Near Eastern culture for thousands of years, worshipped many gods in the form of idols.
The Bible describes how a new leader, Joshua, takes the Israelites into Canaan in a blitzkrieg military campaign. And at what the Bible describes as the greatest of all Canaanite cities, Hazor, there is more evidence of destruction.
AMNON BEN-TOR: I'm walking through a passage between two of the rooms of the Canaanite palace of the kings of Hazor. NARRATOR: Among the ashes, Ben-Tor discovered a desecrated statue, most likely the king or patron god of Hazor. NARRATOR: And there's another Canaanite city-state that Joshua and his army of Israelites are credited with laying waste. Here, archaeologist Hani Nur el-Din and his team are finding evidence of a rich Canaanite culture. HANI NUR EL-DIN (Al-Quds University): The village first appears and developed into a city, and then there was a kind of fortification surrounding this settlement. NARRATOR: These heaps of stones were once a magnificent palace and temples, which were eventually destroyed. NARRATOR: A single sweeping military invasion led by Joshua cannot account for how the Israelites arrived in Canaan. SHARON ZUCKERMAN (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The final destruction itself consisted of the mutilation of statues of kings and gods.
Zuckerman finds, within the grand palaces of elite Hazor, areas of disrepair and abandonment, to archaeologists, signs of a culture in decline and rebellion from within. SHARON ZUCKERMAN: I would not rule out the possibility of an internal revolt of Canaanites living at Hazor and revolting against the elites that ruled the city.
NARRATOR: In fact, the entire Canaanite city-state system, including Hazor and Jericho, breaks down. NARRATOR: In the 1970s, archaeologists started wide-ranging surveys throughout the central hill country of Canaan, today, primarily, the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. NARRATOR: Israel Finkelstein and teams of archaeologists walked out grids over large areas, collecting every fragment of ancient pottery lying on the surface. ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN: In the beginning, the spots were there on the map and they meant nothing to me. NARRATOR: If not natural growth, perhaps these are the waves of dispersed people settling down following the collapse of the great state systems.
Then, more evidence of a new culture is discovered, a new type of simple dwelling, never seen before. AMNON BEN-TOR: The sites in which this type of house appears, throughout the country, this is where Israelites lived. The people who lived in those villages seemed to be arranged, more or less, in a kind of egalitarian society because there are no major architectural installations. NARRATOR: Curiously, the mundane pottery found at these new Israelite villages is very similar to the everyday pottery found at the older Canaanite cities like Hazor. WILLIAM DEVER: The notion is that most of the early Israelites were originally Canaanites, displaced Canaanites. WILLIAM DEVER: So what we're dealing with is a movement of peoples, but not an invasion of armed hordes from outside, but rather a social and economic revolution.
NARRATOR: Ancient texts describe how the Egyptian rulers and their Canaanite vassal kings burden the lower classes of Canaan with taxes and even slavery. ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN: In the text, you have the story of the Israelites coming from outside, and then besieging the Canaanite cities, destroying them and then becoming a nation in the land of Canaan, whereas archaeology tells us something which is the opposite. PETER MACHINIST: Identity is created, as psychologists tell us, by talking about what you are not, by talking about another. NARRATOR: Conspicuously absent from Israelite villages are the grand palaces and the extravagant pottery associated with the kings and rich elites of Canaan.
NARRATOR: If the Israelites wanted to distinguish themselves from their Canaanite past, what better way than to create a story about destroying them?
MICHAEL COOGAN: We don't know exactly what it means and we don't know how it was pronounced, but it seems to have been the personal name of the God of Israel, so his title, in a sense, was "God," and his name was these four letters, which in English is "YHWH," which we think were probably pronounced something like Yahweh.
DONALD REDFORD: Here on the north wall of Karnak, we have scenes depicting the victories and battles of Seti the First, the father of Ramesses the Great. NARRATOR: The Shasu were a people who lived in the deserts of southern Canaan, now Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia, around the same time as the Israelites emerged.
VOICEOVER (Reading from the Bible "Revised Standard Version," Exodus 3:5 and 15): Come no closer! MICHAEL COOGAN: So we have, in Egyptian sources, something that appears to be a name like Yahweh in the vicinity of Midian. NARRATOR: These tantalizing connections are leading biblical scholars to re-examine the Exodus story. AVRAHAM FAUST: There was probably a group of people who fled from Egypt and had some divine experience. NARRATOR: They find their way to the central hill country, where they encounter the tribes who had fled the Canaanite city-states. CAROL MEYERS: They spread the word to the highlanders, who themselves, perhaps, had escaped from the tyranny of the Canaanite city-states. MICHAEL COOGAN: The common understanding of what differentiated the ancient Israelites from their neighbors was that their neighbors worshipped many different gods and goddesses, and the Israelites worshipped only the one true god. NARRATOR: This bull figurine, likely representing El, the chief god of the Canaanite deities, is one of thousands of idols discovered in Israelite sites. NARRATOR: About two centuries pass after the Merneptah Stele places the Israelites in Canaan.
The Kingdom of David and Solomon: one nation, united under one god, according to the Bible.
WILLIAM DEVER: Now, some skeptics, today, have argued that there was no such thing as a united monarchy.
NARRATOR: But then, in 1993, an amazing discovery literally shed new light on what the Bible calls ancient Israel's greatest king. Gila Cook was finishing up some survey work with an assistant at Tel Dan, a biblical site in the far north of Israel, today. NARRATOR: After being summoned by Biran a second time, Cook had her assistant load her up, and she started down the hill. GILA COOK: So I get there, and I just drop my bag and drop the board, and I set my stuff down. NARRATOR: Cook had found a fragment of a victory stele, written in Aramaic, an ancient language very similar to Hebrew. Unlike Genesis, the stories of Israel's kings move the biblical narrative out of the realm of legend and into the light of history. NARRATOR: When the biblical chronology of Israel's kings can be cross-referenced with historical inscriptions, like the Tel Dan Stele, they can provide scholars with fairly reliable dates. NARRATOR: The find is even more significant because Tel Zayit was a biblical backwater, on the fringes of David's kingdom.
KYLE MCCARTER: Surely, if there was a scribe that could write this alphabet that far away, way out in the boondocks, at the extreme western boundary of the kingdom, surely if there is a scribe that could do that out there, there were scribes, much more sophisticated scribes, back in the capital. In the 18th century, German scholars uncovered a clue to who wrote the Bible, hidden in two different names for God. MICHAEL COOGAN: According to one account, Abraham knew God by his intimate, personal name, conventionally pronounced Yahweh. MICHAEL COOGAN: But according to other accounts, Abraham knew God simply by the most common Hebrew word for God, which is Elohim. NARRATOR: And because the backdrop for J's version of events is the area around Jerusalem, it's likely he lived there, perhaps in the royal courts of David and Solomon. NARRATOR: For over a hundred years, archaeologists have searched Jerusalem for evidence of the Kingdom of David, but excavating here is contentious because Jerusalem is sacred to today's three monotheistic religions. NARRATOR: Despite the difficulties, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar went digging in the most ancient part of Jerusalem, today called the City of David.
EILAT MAZAR: We started excavations here, because we wanted to check and to examine the possibility that the remains of King David's palace are here. NARRATOR: But because this area has been fought over, destroyed and rebuilt over thousands of years, it was a long shot that any biblical remains would survive. NARRATOR: Such huge walls can only be part of a massive building, and Mazar believes her excavations, to date, represent only 20 percent of its total size. By analyzing pottery from well-stratified sites, excavators are able to create what they call a relative chronology.
Albright's chronology, slightly modified, is what Mazar uses to date her massive building and what most archaeologists use today. EILAT MAZAR: What we found is a typical 10th century pottery, meaning bowls with hand burnish you can see from inside, together with an import, a beautiful black-on-red juglet.
But that evidence and, indeed, the kingdom itself rest on the dates associated with fragments of pottery, and some critics argue the system for dating that pottery relies too heavily on the Bible. ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN: Archaeologists in the past did not rely too heavily on the Bible, they relied only on the Bible.
NARRATOR: Today, there is a more scientific method to anchor pottery to firm dates, radiocarbon dating.
ELISABETTA BOARETTO (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel): The first step is, of course, in the field, which relates this sample material like olive pits or seeds or charcoal to the archaeological context. NARRATOR: If an olive seed is found at the same layer as a piece of pottery, the carbon in the seed can be used to date the pottery. Boaretto has meticulously collected and analyzed hundreds of samples from over 20 sites throughout Israel. For events so long ago, this may seem like a trivial difference, but if Boaretto is right, Mazar's Palace of David and Tappy's ancient Hebrew alphabet have to be re-dated.
With no writing or monumental building, suddenly the Kingdom of David and Solomon is far less glorious than the Bible describes. NARRATOR: This would make David a petty warlord ruling over a chiefdom, and his royal capital, Jerusalem, nothing more than a cow town. NARRATOR: Pottery and radiocarbon dating alone cannot determine if the Kingdom of David and Solomon was as large and prosperous as described in the Bible. NARRATOR: Here in Hazor, Amnon Ben-Tor, director of excavations, believes this may be evidence of Solomon's building campaign.
Archaeologists call it a six-chambered gate, a massive entryway, fortified with towers and guard rooms. AMNON BEN-TOR: It turned out to be a six-chambered gate, and Yadin immediately remembered that a very, very similar gate was excavated at Gezer, and then Chicago University excavated this gate, here at Megiddo.

NARRATOR: Stunned by the similarity of these three gates, Yadin recalled the passage in the Bible.
AMNON BEN-TOR: Here we have a wonderful connection of the biblical passage as it shows up in archaeology.
NARRATOR: Three monumental gates, all based on the same plan, would seem to be powerful evidence not only of prosperity, but also of a central authority.
DONALD REDFORD: The head-smiting scene, which you see on this wall, commemorates a military campaign conducted by Pharaoh Shishak, or Sheshonk, the founder of Dynasty 22, in Egypt. NARRATOR: The Egyptian pharaoh Shishak invades Israel, an event the Bible reports and specifically dates to five years after Solomon's death, during the reign of his son, Rehoboam.
DONALD REDFORD: The importance of this, in fixing one of the earliest dates, specific dates, in which Egyptian history coincides with biblical history is really startling and has to be taken note of. NARRATOR: This stunning convergence between the Bible and Egyptian history gives a firm date for the death of Solomon. These ovals, with their depictions of bound captives and city walls, represent places Pharaoh Shishak conquered in Israel.
NARRATOR: Although a minority of archaeologists continue to disagree, this convergence of the Bible, Egyptian chronology and Solomon's gates is powerful evidence that a great kingdom existed at the time of David and Solomon, spanning all of Israel, north and south, with its capital in Jerusalem. Not a stone of Solomon's Temple has ever been excavated, but the Bible offers a remarkably detailed description. NARRATOR: The Bible's description suggests a floor plan for Solomon's Temple, and it is strikingly similar to temples built by neighboring peoples who worship many gods. LAWRENCE STAGER: If we take the details that we find of Solomon's Temple in the Book of Kings and compare it with the Ain Dara temple, we can piece together a fairly good picture, I think, of what this temple might have looked like in the age of Solomon.
NARRATOR: Now it is possible to reconstruct, with some confidence, how Solomon's Temple may have looked and how the ancient Israelites worshipped their god. NARRATOR: And the ancient Israelites believed their god demanded a very specific form of worship. JOAN BRANHAM: The primary function is to make a connection between our mundane world and the divine world, and the means, for the ancient Israelites, is embodied in blood. NARRATOR: But while the priests were offering sacrifice to Yahweh in the Temple, many Israelites were not as loyal.
AMIHAI MAZAR: Well, we just found this beautiful, exceptional clay figurine showing a goddess, a fertility goddess that was worshipped here in Israel. WILLIAM DEVER: When I got home and brushed it off, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. NARRATOR: More inscriptions associating Yahweh and Asherah have been discovered and thousands of figurines unearthed, throughout Israel.
WILLIAM DEVER: This is awkward for some people, the notion that Israelite religion was not exclusively monotheistic.
NARRATOR: The Bible admits the Israelites continue to worship Asherah and other Canaanite gods, such as Baal. PETER MACHINIST: The Assyrians were the overpowering military force, and Israel and Judah, the two states that the Bible talks about as the states making up the people Israel, fell under the sway of the Assyrian juggernaut.
NARRATOR: Numerous Assyrian texts and reliefs vividly document their domination of Israel and Judah.
NARRATOR: Scholars believe that the lost scroll is part of the fifth book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, a detailed code of laws and observance. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, after J and E, D is the third group of scribes who write part of the Hebrew Bible. NARRATOR: To enforce the covenant, Josiah orders that idols and altars to all other deities be destroyed.
NARRATOR: The Ten Commandments appears in two books of the Bible, in Deuteronomy and in Exodus.
NARRATOR: By associating the belief in one god with moral behavior, the Ten Commandments establishes a code of morality and justice for all, the ideal of Western civilization. Before his eyes, the Babylonian victors slay the sons of Zedekiah, the last Davidic king, then blind him. NARRATOR: The Babylonians round up the Israelite priests, prophets and scribes, and drag them in chains to Babylon. MICHAEL COOGAN: Among the exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon were priests from the Temple, and they seem to have brought with them their sacred documents, their sacred traditions. NARRATOR: According to the widely accepted Documentary Hypothesis, it is here in Babylon, far from their homes in Israel, that priests and scribes will produce much of the Hebrew Bible, as it is known today.
MICHAEL COOGAN: It was P who took all of these earlier traditions, the J source, the E source, the D source and other sources, as well, and combined them into what we know as the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
SHAYE COHEN: When Genesis 17 attributes a covenantal value to circumcision, it's not really talking about Abraham. NARRATOR: To the exiles, the Babylonians are the new Canaanites, the idol-worshipping, uncircumcised peoples, from whom they must remain apart. But the Abraham story, with its harrowing tale of a father's willingness to sacrifice his own son, is also about the power of faith.
MICHAEL COOGAN: To assure that divine protection, the P tradition emphasizes observances, such as the Sabbath observance. ERIC MEYERS: And we have allusions in the biblical writings and the prophets to the fact that the exiles also learned to pray in groups, in what was to become the forerunner of the synagogue. SHAYE COHEN: It is during this period, through the exile, that the exiles realized that, even far away from their homeland, without a temple, without the priesthood, without kings, they are still able to worship God, be loyal to God and to follow God's commandments. NARRATOR: The experience of the exile transforms ancient Israelite cult into a modern religion.
Though this theory is widely accepted, physical evidence of any biblical text from the exile or earlier is hard to come by. NARRATOR: Still, the earliest of the Dead Sea Scrolls dates to at least 300 years after the Babylonian exile. WILLIAM DEVER: For many of the revisionists, these extreme skeptics, there was no ancient Israel, Israel is an intellectual construct.
NARRATOR: The legitimacy of the Israelite past hinges on finding a piece of evidence to prove the ancient origins of the Bible.
What would be the discovery of a lifetime, starts outside the walls of Jerusalem, in an old cemetery. NARRATOR: Gabriel Barkay instructed a 13-year-old volunteer to clean up a tomb for photographs. GABRIEL BARKAY: Instead of that, he was bored, he was alone, and he had a hammer, and he began banging on the floor. NARRATOR: But the floor turned out to be a fallen ceiling, and beneath it were some artifacts that had escaped the looters. NARRATOR: A second, slightly smaller scroll was also found and both were taken to the labs at the Israel Museum. NARRATOR: Through painstaking conservation, technicians devised a special method for unrolling the scrolls and revealing their contents. GABRIEL BARKAY: I went over there, and I was amazed to see the whole thing full of very delicately scratched, very shallow characters.
The first word that I could decipher already, on the spot, was YHWH, which is the four-letter, unpronounceable name of God.
NARRATOR: Further investigation revealed more text and a surprisingly familiar prayer, still said in synagogues and churches to this day.
ANDY VAUGHN: There is no doubt at all that these two amulets contain the Priestly Benediction found in Numbers, 6.
NARRATOR: The silver scrolls with the Priestly Benediction predate the earliest Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years.
By giving us text from before the Babylonian exile, the silver scrolls confirm that the Hebrew Bible is created from poetry, oral traditions and prayers that go back to the time of Josiah's D writer and likely beyond, to writers E and J. As modern scholars suspect, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, takes its final form during the Babylonian exile. MICHAEL COOGAN: In the ancient world, if your country was destroyed by another country, it meant that their gods were more powerful than your god. NARRATOR: The Israelites abandon the folly of polytheism, monotheism triumphs, and the archaeological evidence proves it. EPHRAIM STERN (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Before the destruction of the First Temple, wherever we dig, in whatever part of the Judean country, we find sanctuaries, and, more often, we find hundreds and thousands of figurines, even in Jerusalem itself. LEE LEVINE: Monotheism is well-ensconced, firmly ensconced, so something major happened which is very hard to trace. NARRATOR: Through the experience of the exile and writing the Bible, the concept of God, as it is known today, is born.
KYLE MCCARTER: In a way, P created something that was much greater, because it was greater than any individual land or kingdom. CAROL MEYERS: This moves Yahweh into the realm of being a universal deity who has the power to affect what happens in the whole universe. NARRATOR: The scrolls that chronicle the Israelites' relationship with their god is now the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, a sacred text for over three billion people.
Through its teachings, the Bible established a code of morality and justice, aspirations that resonate through the ages. On NOVA's Bible's Buried Secrets Web site, share your thoughts on the program, ask questions of biblical scholars, explore a timeline of archeology and more.
With grateful acknowledgement to the State of Rhode Island and Steven Feinberg, Director, the Rhode Island Film and Television Office The City of Providence, David N. New Precious Moments for 2013 are now available.Over 400 fun and festive Precious Moments in stock and ready to ship! Item Description:Join host Roger Moore as we travel the ancient roads of the Holy Land and unlock the mysterious secrets that have been the source of wonderment throughout the ages. Ann's Gift Shop respects your privacy and will never sell or distribute your email address to any third parties.Please read our Privacy Policy for more details. Ann's Gift Shop is an independent dealer and is no longer affiliated with Hallmark Cards, Inc.
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This enormous book examines the entire Bible, from cover to cover, Hebrew Bible and New Testament, from a comparative mythology perspective, incorporating what we know now from other sources, such as archeaology, history, culture, and newly unearthed gospels. Delve into the wonderful workings of providence and creation with Ancient Secrets Of The Bible. As punishment for holding the Israelites captive, 10 plagues are unleashed upon the people of Egypt. The film presents the latest archeological scholarship from the Holy Land to explore the beginnings of modern religion and the origins of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. Jerusalem and the temple to their god are in flames; the nation of Israel, founded by King David, is wiped out. DEVER (University of Arizona): It would have seemed to have been the end, but it was, rather, the beginning. LEVINE (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Monotheism is well-ensconced, so something major happened which is very hard to trace.
TAPPY (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary): I immediately saw very clear, very distinct letters. Rather than marking their annihilation, Merneptah's Stele announces the entrance onto the world stage of a people named Israel.
Merneptah's Stele is powerful evidence that a people called the Israelites are living in Canaan, in what today includes Israel and Palestine, over 3,000 years ago.
Through writing the Hebrew Bible, the beliefs of the ancient Israelites survive to become Judaism, one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced religions. But in ancient times, all people, from the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Babylonians, worshipped many gods, usually in the form of idols.
The primary way in which the Bible looks at the origins of Israel is as a people coming to settle in the land of Israel. The first is Abraham, who leaves Mesopotamia with his family and journeys to the "Promised Land," Canaan. To mark the covenant, Abraham and all males are circumcised; his descendents will be God's chosen people. Though they convey a powerful message, to date, there is no archaeology or text outside of the Bible to corroborate them. They look beyond our modern notion of fact or fiction, to ask why the Bible was written in the first place. There were a few questions raised about this, for example, the very end of the last book of the Torah, the Book of Deuteronomy, describes the death and burial of Moses. One text says two, a pair of every kind of animal; another text says seven pair of the clean animals and only two of the unclean animals. In fact, within the first five books of the Bible, scholars have identified the hand of at least four different groups of scribes, writing over several hundred years. Just as our poems are easier to remember, generally, than prose accounts, so we generally think that the poetry is orally passed on from one to another, long before they commit things to writing. Inscribed on monuments throughout the site is the name of Ramesses II, one of the most powerful Egyptian rulers. But even assuming the Bible is exaggerating, in a hundred years of searching, archaeologists have not yet found evidence of migration that can be linked to the Exodus. Yet scholars have discovered that all four groups of biblical writers contributed to some part of the Exodus story.
These are very powerful ideas that resonate in the human spirit, and the exodus gives narrative reality to those ideas. Archaeology and sources outside the Bible reveal that Canaan consisted of well-fortified city-states, each with its own king, who in turn served Egypt and its pharaoh.
As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat. In the 1930s, British archaeologist John Garstang excavated at Jericho, the first Canaanite city in Joshua's campaign. It's called Ai, and has been discovered in what is now the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. At the same time, it was discovered that most of the large Canaanite towns that were supposed to have been destroyed by these Israelites were either not destroyed at all or destroyed by others. But the destruction of Hazor does coincide with the time that the Merneptah Stele locates the Israelites in Canaan. Excavations reveal that Hazor had a lower city of commoners, serfs and slaves, and an upper city with a king and wealthy elites.
Archaeology and ancient texts clearly show that it is the result of a long period of decline and upheaval that sweeps through Mesopotamia, the Aegean region and the Egyptian empire around 1200 B.C. We used to take students and go twice a week to the highlands, and every day we used to cover between two and three square kilometers. Over seven years he covered nearly 400 square miles, sorting pottery and marking the locations of where it was found, on a map.
And it's in the exact location where both the Merneptah Stele and the Bible place the Israelites. As that oppressive social system declines, families and tribes of serfs, slaves and common Canaanites seize the opportunity. According to archaeology, the rise of early Israel is an outcome of the collapse of Canaanite society, not the reason for that collapse.
By not using decorated pottery, by not using imported pottery, they developed an ideology of simplicity which marked the difference between them and the Egyptian Canaanite system. They celebrate the power of what the Bible says is the foremost distinction between the Israelites and all other people, their God.
Here in the royal city of Karnak, for over a thousand years, Pharaohs celebrated their power with statues, obelisks and carved murals on temple walls. It is here, before the Exodus, the Bible tells us, Moses first encounters Yahweh, in the form of a burning bush. Here is Moses in Midian, and there a deity appears to him and reveals his name to Moses as Yahweh.
While there is no evidence to support a mass migration, some now believe that a small group did escape from Egypt; however, they were not Israelites but, rather, Canaanite slaves. It was probably small, a small group demographically, but it was important at least in ideology. They spread the idea of a god who represented freedom, freedom for people to keep the fruits of their own labor.
Their story of escape, first told by word of mouth and poetry, helps forge a collective identity among the tribes. It struck the Philistine in the forehead; the stone sank into his forehead and he fell down on the ground. Dedicated by the king of Damascus or one of his generals, it celebrates the conquest of Israel, boasting, "I slew mighty kings who harnessed thousands of chariots and thousands of horsemen. We have better sources, we have more written sources, we have more contemporary eyewitness sources. The earliest Hebrew alphabet discovered by Ron Tappy carved on a stone at Tel Zayit provides an enticing clue. Most likely based on poetry and songs passed down for generations, they both write a version of Israel's distant past, the stories of Abraham in the Promised Land, Moses and the Exodus. BRANHAM (Providence College): For Christians, Jesus comes in his final week to worship at the Jerusalem temple.
For these walls to be David's palace, they would have to date to his lifetime, around 1000 B.C. Biblical archaeologists date ruins based on the pottery they find associated with those ruins. By measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12, Boaretto can determine the age of the olive seed, which, in turn, can be used to date the pottery. Her carbon samples date the pottery that Albright and most archaeologists associate with the time of David and Solomon to around 75 years later.

This places them in the time of the lesser-known kings Omri, Ahab, and his despised wife Jezebel, all worshippers of the Canaanite god Baal. It was a small chiefdom, if you wish, with just a few settlements, very poor, the population was limited, there was no manpower for big conquest, and so on and so forth.
He or she who decides to ignore these results, I treat them as if arguing that the world is flat, that the Earth is flat.
The problem is that these radiocarbon dates have a margin of error of plus- or minus-30 years, about the difference between the two sides. The Bible credits David with conquering the kingdom, but it is Solomon, his son, who is the great builder. Throughout its history the Israelites had been divided into tribes, then into kingdoms, north and south.
Shishak's campaign, according to the well-established Egyptian chronology, dates to 925 B.C.
One of those places is Gezer, where archaeologists find the hallmark of Solomon's building program, a six-chambered gate. Down below, we have the original stones, pretty much in situ, but, if you look in here, you see the stones are badly cracked. It centered around the Temple, built by David's son Solomon, and seen as Yahweh's earthly dwelling. The closest in appearance is a temple hundreds of miles to the north of Jerusalem, at Ain Dara, in modern-day Syria.
Blood is the most sacred substance on the altar, and blood is the substance that embodies life. At Tel Rehov, archaeologists are digging at an Israelite house that illuminates the religious practices of its ancient inhabitants. Even hundreds of years after the Israelites rise from their Canaanite pagan roots, monotheism has still not completely taken hold. In fact, the prophets, holy men speaking in the name of God, consistently rail against breaking the covenant made with Moses to worship only Yahweh.
Soon after Solomon's death, the 10 northern tribes rebel and form the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Those who escape death or exile to Assyria, flood south into Jerusalem, where the descendents of David and Solomon continue to reign. The scroll was brought to him, and as the scroll was being read, Josiah began to weep, because he realized that it was a sacred text containing divine commands which the people had been breaking. D retells the Exodus story and reaffirms the covenant Moses made between God and the Israelite people. He has loved you more than any other nation." So the divine love for Israel requires a corresponding loyalty to God, an exclusive loyalty to God. The book of Deuteronomy contains the clearest prohibition of the worship of other gods, the Ten Commandments. And that's where the idea of justice comes in, because that's the most important thing about the way in which we treat one another. Their acceptance of one god and the triumph of monotheism begins with a series of events vividly attested through archaeology, ancient texts and the Bible. MEYERS (Duke University): The destruction of Jerusalem created one of the most significant theological crises in the history of the Jewish people.
Their journey begins with the ancient scrolls, which, some scholars speculate, were rescued from the flames of the destruction.
It is no coincidence that the exiled P scribes place Abraham's origins in Ur, just down the river from Babylon. How, in a foreign land without the Temple and sacrifice, can they redeem themselves in the eyes of Yahweh? First discovered by accident, in 1947, the scrolls represent nearly all 39 books of the Hebrew Bible, at least in fragments.
It means they already stand in a line of tradition that had been established by the time the scrolls were written. In the absence of proof of earlier text, some scholars claim the entire Bible is pious fiction and even doubt whether Israel and the Israelites ever existed. In other words, these people were not rethinking their past, they were inventing their past. It was cylindrical, about an inch in size, about half an inch in diameter, and it was very clear it is made of silver.
But unraveling the scrolls to see if they contain a readable inscription could risk destroying them completely. VAUGHN (American Schools of Oriental Research): Archaeology is basically a destructive science. These inscriptions are thus very important because they are the earliest references we have to the written biblical narratives.
It is an amazing find, proving that at least some verses of the Bible were written in ancient times, during the reign of King David's descendents. But dwarfed by the mighty temples and giant statues of Babylonian gods, the Israelites must also confront the fundamental question: why did their God, Yahweh, forsake them?
And the natural thing to do is to worship the more powerful god, but the survivors continued to worship Yahweh and struggled to understand how this could have happened. It was a kind of universal religion based on a creator god, not just a god of a single nation, but the God of the world, the God of the universe. As written in the Bible, Yahweh, in his new role as the one invisible God, orchestrates a new exodus. Ezra returns with the Bible in his hand, so we have the feeling that the process begun in the exile is finally finished, and Ezra has a copy. Through its writing, an ancient cult becomes a modern religion, and the Israelite deity, Yahweh, transforms into the God of the three great monotheistic religions. More than fact or fiction, at the intersection of science and scriptures, is a story that began over 3,000 years ago and continues to this day.
Many intelligent and otherwise well informed readers will find much of the material in this book new and quite startling, although Bible scholars, and anyone who has even an amateur background in comparative mythology, will be familiar with it. I traversed most of the pages with my Oxford New Revised Standard Edition in my left hand and this in my right.
It starts with those who believe that every single word is literally true, having been dictated directly by God, or, in the case of the later histories, directly inspired by God.
This author knows comparative religions prior to the time and during the time of the writing of the Bible.He covers the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation and attempts to separate myth from reality in the scriptures.
This extraordinary 39-episode series will appeal equally to curious hearts and minds, putting the power of scientific and historical inquiry at the fingertips of the faithful.Is every Biblical story and prophecy literally true? This archeological detective story tackles some of the biggest questions in biblical studies: Where did the ancient Israelites come from? Both the stele and the Bible place a people called the Israelites in the hill country of Canaan, which includes modern-day Israel and Palestine.
Genesis is, for the most part, a compilation of myths, creation stories, things like that, and to find a historical core there is very difficult. They were good historians and they could tell it the way it was when they wanted to, but their objective was always something far beyond that.
To discover the most ancient text in the Bible, scholars examine the Hebrew spelling, grammar and vocabulary.
I'm speaking English of the 21st century, and if I were living in Elizabethan times, the words I choose, the syntax I use would be quite different. Garstang uncovered dramatic evidence of destruction and declared he had found the very walls that Joshua had brought tumbling down. You can see the dark stones here and, most important, you can see how they cracked into a million pieces.
We don't see weapons in the street like we see in other sites that were destroyed by foreigners. This broad similarity is leading archaeologists to a startling new conclusion about the origins of the ancient Israelites. In search of a better way of life, they abandon the old city-states, and head for the hills. On their journey back to Canaan they pass through Midian, where they are inspired by stories of the Shasu's god, Yahu.
The liberated slaves attribute their freedom to the god they met in Midian, who they now call Yahweh.
This was a message that was so powerful that it brought people together and gave them a new kind of identity. But these people are bound together by a new vision, and I think the revolutionary spirit is probably there from the beginning. It was near the end of the day, and Cook was getting her last measurements, when she hears a yell from below.
Pottery dating is based on two ideas: pottery styles evolve uniformly over time, and the further down you dig, the further back in time you go. To anchor this chronology William Foxwell Albright, considered the father of biblical archaeology, used events mentioned in both the Bible and Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts to assign dates to pottery styles.
According to their results, Mazar's palace and Tappy's alphabet can date to the 10th century, the time of David and Solomon. The locations of these strikingly similar gates in both regions suggest a single governing authority throughout the land.
You can even see where they're burned from the heat of a huge fire that has been built here. COHEN (Harvard University): The magic of Jerusalem is the magic of the Temple, one temple for the one god. To understand how the ancient Israelites worshipped their god, scholars must discover what the Temple looked like and how it functioned. There was a room, the holy place, and then beyond that the most sacred room, the holy of holies where tradition says the Ark of the Covenant held the tablets of the law. Then a powerful new enemy storms out of Mesopotamia to create the largest empire the Near East had ever known, the Assyrians. And Deuteronomy, more than other parts of the Bible, is insistent that only the God of Israel is to be worshipped.
After all, how could God allow his temple, his house, the visible sign of his presence among his people to be destroyed? Therefore they began to look at circumcision as, not simply another practice, but rather as the marker of the covenant and they attributed this view back to Abraham. Perhaps with the same faith as Abraham had, so, too, will the exiles be returned to the Promised Land. They survived because they were deposited in the perfect environment for preservation, the hot, dry desert. They had no past, so the Bible is a myth, a foundation myth, told to legitimate a people who had no legitimacy.
Bible scholar and religion editor Tim Callahan fills the gap left by many Bible interpreters who examine only those Bible verses which can be made to support their personal or political views.
The notions of Biblical events being revisions to mythic narratives are not new and the author does a very good job separating accepted Biblical Scholarship and established Hermeneutics from his conjectures. The other end of the continuum is made up of those who see it as a collection of myth, history, folk-tale, wisdom literature, poetry, and (at worst) as the stories of a tribal god now being used to justify the belief of that tribe's descendants that they and no one else has a right to a given portion of this planet.
So, let's say they should be considered guilty of destruction of Hazor until proven innocent. Clearly, these city-states were not destroyed at the same time; they range over nearly a thousand years.
Free from the oppression of their past, they eventually emerge in a new place as a new people, the Israelites. David's son Solomon builds the Temple where Yahweh, now the national God of Israel, will dwell for eternity. For Islam, it is the site where Mohammed comes in a sacred night journey; and, today, the Dome of the Rock marks that spot. If pottery style A comes from the lowest stratum, then it is earlier than pottery style B that comes from the stratum above it. This is further evidence that David and Solomon lived in the 10th century, but there's even more hidden in these walls.
And then, up in here, you see the fire had been so intense that the soft limestone has melted into lime, and it flows down like lava.
The result is that Jerusalem and the Temple emerge as powerful symbols, not just of the oneness of God, but also the oneness of the Jewish people.
But, although archaeologists know where its remains should be, it is impossible to dig there.
And this room was considered to be the most sacred site on Earth, because it is the room where God's presence could be found. According to their tradition, for over 2,500 years, they have been practicing the ancient Israelite form of worship, animal sacrifice. Bill Dever was carrying out salvage excavations in tombs in southern Israel, when a local brought him an inscription that had been robbed from one of them.
Archaeologists suspect there were at least hundreds more scrolls throughout Israel, but because they were written on papyrus or animal skins, they have long since decomposed.
Gabriel Barkay and his team had to make a decision: does one unroll these amulets or does one preserve them? Back in Jerusalem, he gives a public reading of the newly written Torah to reestablish the covenant. But the world needs a broader understanding of its sacred texts, particularly when selective interpretation of the Bible is used to fuel extremism, and when interpreting Bible verses out of the context in which they were written intrudes on rational solutions for modern problems.Callahan uses comparative mythology to demonstrate how Bible stories that do not make much sense on the surface can be understood on deeper levels when their mythic content is revealed. To properly read this book, I probably should have had a better guide to the apocrypha and deuterocanonical texts as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Thomas, the Gnostic Gospels and the book of Maccabees are all references of which only the last was in my NRV copy.While not the main focus of the book, I very much enjoyed his references problems for believers in Biblical Inerrancy (which he simply calls fundamentalists) as well as the apologetics often used. It contains a lot of contradictions and absurdities, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you account for the cultural context in which it was written. Fortunately, Tim Callahan does not have a political or religious agenda - his interest is purely academic and his goal is to demonstrate to the general reader how the stories in the Bible came to be, on what they were originally based, what they meant to the original authors and how that meaning changed over history.
How did the worship of one God—the foundation of modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—emerge? In fact, of the 31 sites the Bible says that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war. In Judaism the stories of the Hebrew Bible, of Solomon, of David, of the temples of Jerusalem, all of these take place, of course, in Jerusalem. This is vivid evidence of a destruction, and we would connect that with this well-known raid of Pharaoh Shishak. The commandments, as God, himself, repeatedly says through the later prophets, are already written on the hearts of human beings. They decided that it was worth the risk, and hindsight would tell us that they could not have been more correct. He uses literary analysis, history, and archeological comparisons to expand our understanding of the purpose these stories served for those who originally wrote them.
He adroitly demonstrates how the great mythic themes of the Middle East, Egypt, and Mesopotamia were adopted and adapted by the early Hebrews to tell a story that would hold a disparate group of people together. These questions can finally be answered as scientists, archaeologists, astronomers historians and Biblical scholars examine the contemporary evidence of the most significant moments from the Holy Scriptures.
It borrowed heavily from other mythologies, particularly Greek and Egyption mythologies.It was written over many years, and it shows many indications that it started as a tribal mythology in which Yahweh was one of many gods, only later evolving into monotheism. He explains and demonstrates how the same stories were told differently by different groups (such as the priests who traced their lineage to Moses and those who traced their lineage to Aaron) with different agendas and how both (or more than two) versions were merged into a single story. This series features dramatic re-creations, expert testimony, biblical evidence, scientific experiments, and great entertainment value for the entire family. See Adam and Eve ejected from the Garden of Eden, the building of Noah's Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments and many other scenes from the Old Testament as experts comment on the history and authenticity of the ancient texts. It was in this process that an afterlife, the devil, and hell were grafted on much later to make sense of things which were formerly attributed to other gods. Callahan takes the Bible as a great archaeological dig and discovers more than I can begin to describe and these discoveries do not reduce the Bible.
The New Testament comes to life as the major events of the Gospels are dramatically re-enacted. Biblical scholars have also discovered that the Hebrew Bible is more like a documentary, interpolated from four different sources.Most of this book covers the Hebrew Bible, but the last four chapters discusses the New Testament. Witness the sacrifices of the early Christian martyrs and learn how their actions formed the modern Christian Church. There is very little evidence outside the New Testament that Jesus existed or that any events involving him were real.
All of creation, but most of all our consciousness, are mysteries that are beyond the ability of our minds to understand, so we must create myth and allegory that somehow provide us with insights that go beyond those that cold hard data can provide.
The people, places and events in the Bible have never been more significant than they are today.
The hypothesis is that he was the leader of one of the many messianic uprisings that drew the fire of the Romans.
Research such as Callahan's is as important as any being carried out today because it demonstrates both how our consciousness is evolving and how our ancestors understood and conceptualized this evolution. By studying this, we can come to a greater understanding of our perceptions of the evolution of our consciousness and how these perceptions can affect that evolution.
Paul developed early Christianity with the same apocolyptic assumption.The Israelites never considered Yahweh to be perfect or omnipotent, these features only added on later by early Christians, which necessitated a lot of logical gymnastics to make sense of such a god in the context of his earlier behaviors, which resembled more the polytheistic mythology it had evolved from than modern Christianity.
This book also shows some of the stretching of meaning fundamentalists have had to do to make sense of the Bible as the inerrant and universal word of God, willfully refusing to account for the culture in which it was developed over many years.All of this is extremely relevant, considering most people in the world believe in Judiasm or one of its offshoots (Islam and Christianity), including nearly all of our politicians, and they believe the Bible is the word of God.

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