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Digging Through the Bible: Understanding Biblical People, Places, and Controversies through Archaeology Hardcover – October 23, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742546446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742546448
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,263,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It is often the work of biblical literalists to find harmonies and agreements in the scriptural record. Others seek, and celebrate, the differing views of the biblical writers. Freund, professor of archeology, history and Judaic studies, and director of Jewish studies at the University of Hartford, has put together a masterful and eminently readable study of these differences, not to resolve them, but rather to explore the rich traditions that produced these writings. In an invaluable introductory chapter, he leads the reader through the world of biblical archeology, examining the methods of textual criticism and historical research. He then explores the biblical and archeological foundations for our understandings of such notables as Abraham, David, Jesus, Mary and many others. Freund's quest for history brings him also to Qumran and to the search for the teacher of righteousness. He masterfully studies the rise and centrality of the synagogue system within the Hebrew community. His conclusions may be discomfiting to some, but his commitment to objective research and sound exegesis will surely inspire and inform every reader. (Nov.)
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Review

Richard Freund's Digging Through the Bible is a personal account of excavating the most important sites of the Bible, and it is spellbinding. A provocative and fascinating account of the major controversies of the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity. (Rabbi Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, New York University)

Digging through the Bible does something that no other book on archaeology and the Bible does. It brings the reader in a pedagogical as well as in a very updated and well-learned way from the Hebrew Bible through the New Testament, touching on most of the major contemporary controversies about Jerusalem, the Exodus, Jesus, and Qumran. (Adolf Roitman, curator, The Shrine of the Book, The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

Richard Freund’s extensive knowledge of the literary and archaeological sources, as well as his insights and ability to make connections, make this a must-read for any student of the Bible. His work at numerous excavations in Israel and his experience as a professor and Rabbi make him uniquely qualified to write this lively book, which is comprehensible to both lay reader and scholar alike. (Elizabeth McNamer, Rocky Mountain College; director, Rocky Mountain College Bethsaida Excavations Project)

A fascinating, riveting excavation through layers of history (and quite literally, earth and humankind) that will be of tremendous interest to both scholars and a general readers. Richard Freund is remarkable at casting a fresh eye on texts and artifacts that seem to be well known, but deserve more careful scrutiny. (Michael Berkowitz, University College London)

Richard Freund has produced a very readable and stimulating book that addresses a number of vexing biblical issues. Thanks to his direct involvement in excavations in Israel, he is able to offer new firsthand data to bolster the case he makes. (James K. Hoffmeier, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

Freund has put together a masterful and eminently readable study of these differences, not to resolve them, but rather to explore the rich traditions that produced these writings. In an invaluable introductory chapter, he leads the reader through the world of biblical archaeology, examining the methods of textual criticism and historical research. . . . He masterfully studies the rise and centrality of the synagogue system within the Hebrew community. . . . His commitment to objective research and sound exegesis will surely inspire and inform every reader. (Publishers Weekly, (Starred Review))

Well written and researched. . . . Recommended. (Library Journal, December 2008)

For those who enjoy the study of biblical archaeology but don't claim to be experts, this will be a rewarding read. Freund is an informed and interesting narrator. (The Bible Today, July/August 2009)

In fairly simple terms, [Freund] explains the different sides of each question and presents the available evidence. He describes the methodologies of biblical literary criticism and of biblical archaeology. . . . It is a good introduction to the problems of 'believing' the Bible in a post-modern, scientificized world. (Jewish Book World, November 2009)

Freund offers an erdutite, clearly written study of the biblical Old and New Testaments, as well as inscriptional and literary evidence that relates to them. . . . Recommended. (CHOICE, October 2009)

After providing a 46-page 'crash course' in biblical archaeology, Freund, professor of Jewish history at the University of Hartford and author of Secrets of the Cave of Letters: A Dead Sea Mystery (2004), uses archaeological finding to draw conclusions about key biblical characters and events. (New Testament Abstracts)

Customer Reviews

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Fascinating reading, I am learning a great deal.
Jidge
He touches on major contemporary controversies and through his experience as an archaeologist and rabbi brings a unique perspective to the reader.
steveg
The primary problem with this book is that it is peppered with errors.
Ro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ro on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Update May 2011: The author of this book has been searching for Atlantis and now believes it to be located buried under the earth in Spain. Yet more evidence that what he proclaims should be taken with a grain of salt.

My original review: This 2009 book is unfortunately named and marketed, because it is not really about archaeology at all. It is more about textual analysis, critical Biblical scholarship, and the Documentary Hypothesis. Archaeological matters take up only about 5% of the book. Not that the book isn't interesting and a good read. The author's writing style is very approachable and even soothing, rationally explaining the issues and relevant details to true neophytes; this is definitely a "popular" work, meant for a mass audience new to Biblical debates rather than for scholars who could jump right in without missing a beat. The primary problem with this book is that it is peppered with errors. The author appears out of his element although his smooth, structured delivery would make one think otherwise. Here are just a small sampling of the errors I found in the book. These are direct quotes followed by my comments:

- "The Bible makes clear that Moses saw an old temple on top of the mountain, which he later used as a model." (p. 96). He did? I have been reading the Torah in Hebrew for quite a long time and I have degrees in Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies, yet I am unfamiliar with this notion. Maybe the Biblical text does suggest such a thing(?) but I am completely unaware of it. This is a perfect example of where a citation or Biblical reference would have been appropriate and welcome.

- "[Josephus] Flavius places the Exodus in the Hellenistic period, some three hundred years earlier." (p. 97) Um, no.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on February 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Although this book is entitled "Digging through the Bible" and the subheading is "Understanding Biblical People, Places, and Controversies Through Archaeology" you will find very little archaeology in the book apart from the first chapter which is entitled "A Crash Course in Biblical Archaeology." Instead, much of the book relies on various forms textual analysis, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but hardly qualifies as archaeology.

There is a very disturbing anecdote in Chapter 3 (Searching for Jesus) in which the author presents Pope John Paul II with a copy of an iron door key dated from the first century and found in Bethsaida. The Pope makes the leap and says "the key of Peter" (John 1:44 says that Peter's hometown was Bethsaida) to which the author responds affirmatively. Of course it's not the key of Peter and the author knows this well. But by acknowledging the artifact as "the key of Peter" the author has put the stamp of authenticity on what will forever be known as "the key of Peter" and used by future generations to prove that Peter existed - after all, if we have the key to his house, he must have existed! (The plain fact is that there is even less historical evidence for Peter than for Jesus). When you read a passage like this, can you really trust anything this author says? Well, I continued to read the book, but...

More disturbing news comes when the author reveals that he was unaware of the controversy concerning the existence of Nazareth in the early first century. Moreover, he doesn't appear to be aware that many people believe the proper translation is "Jesus the Nazarene" and not "Jesus of Nazareth." Without opening up either of these controversies, Freund's apparent lack of knowledge in this area is very telling.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jidge on September 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
Fascinating reading, I am learning a great deal.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By steveg on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I found Digging Through The Bible an interesting read and a "crash course in Biblical Archaeology". Through many
exavations Dr Freund brought to life events and people of the bible--
the search for the Exodus from Egypt and locating Mt. Sinai, searching for Jesus in the Galilee as well as confirming that Bar Kokhpa, a leader in the Second Revolt, really lived. Dr. Freund writes in a personal way about digging at various archaeological sites. He touches on major contemporary controversies and through his experience as an archaeologist and rabbi brings a unique perspective to the reader.

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DJW on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I began reading Digging Through the Bible from a copy I found in the library, but felt I'd be referring to it often enough that I should have one of my own. Freund combines archaeological finds, Biblical references and the ongoing debate between Biblical "minimalists" and "maximalists throughout his book and intersperses his chapters with personal experiences on excavations, literary references, cultural history, word analysis, rabbinical interpretations and more in a thoroughly readable way. I am very impressed with the richness of his knowledge and his well-rounded, inclusive approach.
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