The exploding number of discoveries of biblical archaeology artifacts and texts found at hundreds of sites populated in the ancient Near East have shed powerful beams of light on the characters and peoples in the Bible. Most of the resulting public controversies have focused on whether or not the history in the Bible is true. Yet ultimately,there are two larger questions that matter more: exactly how did the Bible evolve into its final form, over the centuries-long process of its compilation, and what does that history tell us about the traditions we have inherited and that still stamp our memories?
In David and Solomon, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, leadingarchaeologists and authors who have done a great deal to uncover and understand the breathtaking findings of their field, focus on the first two great kings of the Bible as a lens through which we can see the evolution of the entire biblical era. The Bible's chapters and verses on David and his son were written in stages, over many hundreds of years, by authors living in very different circumstances. Thanks to a combination of textual analysis and archaeology, we now know a great deal about which parts of the story were written in which era, and why those particular societies might have added to the legend precisely as they did. In short, David and Solomon offers a guide to a thousand years of ancient civilization and the evolution of a tradition of kingly leadership that held sway throughout the West for much of our history.David and Solomon shows how the stories built around two men reflect the very roots of the western tradition and explains a great deal of why the Bible appears as it does.
The exciting field of biblical archaeology has revolutionized our understanding of the Bible -- and no one has done more to popularise this vast store of knowledge than Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, who revealed what we now know about when and why the Bible was first written in The Bible Unearthed. Now, with David and Solomon, they do nothing less than help us to understand the sacred kings and founding fathers of western civilization.
David and his son Solomon are famous in the Bible for their warrior prowess, legendary loves, wisdom, poetry, conquests, and ambitious building programmes. Yet thanks to archaeology's astonishing finds, we now know that most of these stories are myths. Finkelstein and Silberman show us that the historical David was a bandit leader in a tiny back-water called Jerusalem, and how -- through wars, conquests and epic tragedies like the exile of the Jews in the centuries before Christ and the later Roman conquest -- David and his successor were reshaped into mighty kings and even messiahs, symbols of hope to Jews and Christians alike in times of strife and despair and models for the great kings of Europe. A landmark work of research and lucid scholarship by two brilliant luminaries, David and Solomon recasts the very genesis of western history in a whole new light.
Israel Finkelstein is a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University. He is a leading figure in the archaeology of the Levant and the laureate of the 2005 Dan David Prize in the Past Dimension -- Archaeology. Finkelstein served for many years as the Director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and is the co-Director of the Megiddo Expedition. He is the co-author, with Neil Silberman, of The Bible Unearthed (Free Press, 2001) and the author of many field reports and scholarly articles.
Neil Asher Silberman is director of historical interpretation for the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium. He is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine and the author of The Hidden Scrolls: Christianity, Judaism, and the War for the Dead Sea Scrolls; The Message and the Kingdom; and Digging for God and Country, among other books.
"A bold and provocative book, well researched, well written, and powerfully argued. It challenges many of the assumptions developed by the literal religious minds of the ages, opening traditional possibilities to new conclusions." -- John Shelby Spong, author of Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality
"A brutally honest assessment of what archaeology can and cannot tell us about the historical accuracy of the Bible, presented with both authority and panache." -- Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
" . . . an intellectual high-wire act. Their audacity and skill is admirable . . . The book's most stunning accomplishment is its skillful reconciliation of competing perspectives within the biblical text." -- Archaeology Magazine