For 2,000 years and more, the Bible and its precepts have shaped world culture and civilization, whether Judeo-Christian or not. The Bible is a touchstone of religious belief, literary accomplishment, morality, and history unlike any other. Biblical interpretations have changed over the millennia, but the past 100 years have witnessed some of the most important transformations in our perspective, and no recent influence has been greater than archaeology.
In the mid-20th century, the unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrollsto cite just one of many modern findsdeepened our understanding of the Biblical world, its peoples, and their beliefs. Since then, new evidence has appearedthe Tel Dan inscription, the Merneptah Stele, and the Gabriel Revelationwith each revelation providing richer insights into the scriptural narrative and the way these stories were written and handed down, confirming the details of historical events and personages, or clarifying the meaning and chronology of biblical ideas.
Meticulous, scholarly, yet always accessible, this is required reading for anyone interested in both Old and New Testaments and the creeds, cultures, and civilizations of ancient Hebrews and early Christians alike.Look Inside The Letter and the Scroll
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|Found in 2008 by archaeologists excavating at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city near Bethlehem occupied around the time of King David, this message written on clay is the oldest Hebrew inscription yet discovered, dating to around 1000 B.C.E. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP) ||Despite containing only 14 lines of script, the Tel Dan Stela has become one of the most important recent discoveries in biblical archaeology. It is the oldest non-biblical text to refer to the kingdom of Israel and the only one to refer to the House of David. (Israel Museum, Jerusalem) ||The Dome of the Rock, built over the rubble of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temple, rises above the old City of David. (Zev Radovan) ||In solemn procession, envoys from Media ascend the stairs to pay tribute to the Persian king, in this relief from the palace at Persepolis. (James P. Blair) |
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|The widespread use of tetradrachm coins like this one featuring Antiochus IV Epiphanes symbolized the increasing Hellenization of the Seleucid empire. Jewish law forbade such “graven images” of men and animals. (Zev Radovan) ||A papyrus dating to ca 160 C.E. with part of the census return from “Paesis, son of Nebteichis,” a Roman citizen of the province of Egypt. (Papyrus Collection, University of Michigan) ||This fragment of the Gospel of John dates to the second half of the first century of the current era and is the oldest existing copy of any book in the New Testament. (The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester) ||A pair of fish, an early symbol of Christ, adorn the mosaic floor at the Megiddo church, Israel. (David Silverman/Getty) |
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About the Author
Stephen Hyslop is an author and editor who has written several books on American and world history including Eyewitness to the Civil War
and National Geographic Almanac of World History.
Robin Currie has written for a wide range of publications and publishers, mostly on historical topics.