The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect

The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect

The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect

The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect

Synopsis

The Lives of Ordinary People tells the untold story of how the vast majority of Israelites -- the people who are usually overlooked in "typical" histories of ancient Israel -- lived during the eighth century b.c.e. William G. Dever applies the latest archaeological evidence and his own considerable expertise to answer the question What was it really like to live in Israel's divided kingdom?

Writing as an archaeologist who is also a secular humanist, Dever relies primarily on archaeological data rather than the Hebrew Bible for his source material. He uncovers and analyzes rich archaeological troves that provide vital clues about how most people lived. Illustrated by photos, maps, charts, site plans, and specially commissioned drawings, Dever's work brings vividly to life a world too long buried beneath dusty texts and stony landscapes.

Excerpt

This book attempts to provide a new, original, lavishly illustrated handbook for students of the Hebrew Bible. It is written primarily for the nonspecialist, but technical details for colleagues will be found in the notes and in the bibliography at the end.

This book is not a “history of Israel” in the usual sense. For one thing, it confines itself to roughly the 8th century B.C.E.: from the end of the Aramean incursions in the north toward the end of the 9th century, circa 810, to the Neo-Assyrian campaigns in Judah in 701. One reason for this limited scope is that this century or so is well defined as a discrete era chronologically. Another reason is that this period is exceptionally well documented archaeologically. the current disputes over the 10th-9th centuries need not distract us; the 7th century is ruled out simply because there is no longer an “Israel.” It might be desirable to expand our coverage earlier and later. But that would make for an unwieldy work, since we now have a superabundance of recent data.

What I intend to do here is to construct a parallel history of one era in ancient Israel and Judah—asortof “secular history” of Palestine in the Iron Age — to supplement (and perhaps to correct) the portrait we have in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. But the archaeological data, not the textual data, will be the primary source initially. To be sure, the textual data will be considered later, in Part ii of each chapter, wherever they can be shown to be historically accurate beyond reasonable doubt. But the biblical texts will be subsidiary and will often prove to be of minimal importance. in this

1. For convenient, brief, but up-to-date general surveys of the 8th century B.C.E., see now Campbell 1998; Cogan 1998.

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