Friday, July 5, 2013

The Bible Unearthed: Why The Bible As We Know It Is Bullshit

If you're not a biblical scholar like me and do not have the time or money to spend years researching into the ancient text of the Bible and the archaeological findings that attempted to corroborate its stories, then there is an excellent documentary called The Bible Unearthed. It's based on the 2001 book from Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, and Neil Silberman, contributing editor or Archaeology Magazine.

Their work made some interesting findings. There is no archaeological evidence supporting some of the most famous tales of the Old Testament, including the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt, the exodus and wandering in Sinai for 40 years, and the military conquest of Canaan. We can confidently say that these tales were written fabrications, perhaps intended to be myth by their writers, perhaps not.

What's great about Finkelstein and Silberman's work is that they're not sensationalist atheists who are motivated by disproving the bible. They're Jewish archaeologists and many of the archaeological expeditions they went on and that they've written on were financed by the state of Israel. And who else would have the biggest motivation to validate the stories of the Bible than the state of Israel? It would allow Israel to "prove" to the world that God did indeed give them the land they currently dwell on. And some theists have pointed out to me that I'm not qualified to criticize the biblical narrative archaeologically because I'm not a scholar in the field. Here's the catch with such an assertion: if I'm not qualified to criticize or disbelieve the Bible because I'm not a scholar, then neither am I qualified to believe the Bible because I'm not a scholar. And so the theist is setting up an extremely high bar one would have to meet in order to believe anything about the bible, and such standard shoots itself in the foot, because the vast majority of believing Christians don't meet that standard.

If you've got three hours to kill, watch their documentary below.


  1. Finkelstein is a notorious revisionist, and most archaeologists disagree with his interpretations. They interpret the pottery shards one way, he interprets them another way. So what? Absence of evidence is not evidence.

    1. Thing is, if the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, that saying can be used to justify anything that is asserted with out evidence. So I'm not fond of it.

      I'm willing to hear both sides. If you know of any good debates on this subject I'd be willing to look into it.

    2. Absence of evidence is not evidence.
      It absolutely can be (and in the case of much of so called biblical history, actually is) evidence of absence.
      For instance, if the Exodus as presented in the bible occurred, we would expect to find evidence of the passage of the Israelites, especially where they supposedly camped for many years. We do not find any such evidence, and therefore we can confidently say the Exodus as presented in the bible did not happen.

      To put it another way, if some piece of evidence would increase the probability of an hypothesis should it have existed, it's non-existence MUST serve to decrease the probability of this hypothesis.

  2. There is a lot out there on both sides. Look at the Amazon reader reviews + and - and you get a pretty good overview of the angles on this.

    1. I checked them out already, most of them are pretty positive. I would love to watch a good debate among experts in this field who disagree.

  3. Finkelstein's claims do in some cases go beyond the evidence, but for the most part, he's on the money.

    I'd suggest a reading of Dever for a more "balanced" view of the Archaeological evidence (hint: The exodus still never happened, and the Israelites still arose in Canaan) -

    For the Maximalists I've read (ie. those who assume the bible is true), they tend to try to make room for the possibility of these things, rather than trying to show they were probable.
    Is it possible that a large group of Semetic slaves escaped Egypt and fled to Canaan, through territory occupied by the Egyptians, over the course of some 40 years without leaving a trace of their occupation, even in places they stayed for many years, even when we have evidence of much smaller and older populations migrating through those same regions? Yes, of course it is possible. Is it remotely probable? No, of course it is not.

  4. Frank, how many of the experts who disagree with Finkelstein are reasonable in their disagreements?
    How many of those claim the evidence supports the bible as being an historically accurate record of history?

    I suspect the number of those in the latter category approaches 0.



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