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The Letter and the Scroll: What Archaeology Tells Us About the Bible Hardcover – November 17, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

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Product Description
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 Scrolls—to cite just one of many modern finds—deepened our understanding of the Biblical world, its peoples, and their beliefs. Since then, new evidence has appeared—the Tel Dan inscription, the Merneptah Stele, and the Gabriel Revelation—with 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)

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)


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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; First edition (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426205147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426205149
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The photo on page 157 is not the "Dome of the Rock" as labeled, but is actually the Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Dome of the Rock is the gold colored dome in the center of the temple mount). Also, the Temple Mount is not "southeast" per page 156, but northeast; the Goliath inscription on page 153 is not "prior" but after, etc.

The photos in the book are good, and the text is readable, but the book needs editing (e.g. see prior reviewers comments about upside down photos).

If technical mistakes are corrected, it's a good idea. Sorry, but please try again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By velma smothermon on February 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
the pictures and the explinations were great. feel the book is valuable as a companion book for any persons Bible study.
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By SK on February 22, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a few reviewers have pointed out, this book contains some major factual and errors, some of which were corrected in its second printing. I wonder if these were made because of inadequate proofreading by the authors or is partly due to problems with the publisher, National Geographic. Unfortunately, dealers of used copies do not usually give enough information to potential buyers.

As the cover indicates and the contents reveals, the stress of this work on the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls is their being preludes to, and forecasters of, Jesus and Christianity. I believe the work's title should have reflected this. Moreover, ancient Judaism and ancient Jewish society are not looked upon very accuratey or favorably, and seem more in tune with works written several decades ago. Nevertheless, despite these drawbacks it is an interesting read with plenty of engaging, large, color photos. Those seeking more accuracy should look elsewhere, such as the works of other Christian scholars like Kitchen, Dever, and Graves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LARRY FRANKEL on October 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A treasure to have in ones library. Marvelous pictures too. Clear to the point honest text with real scholarship behind it.
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I love this book. Not only does it make a lovely coffee table book - it is extremely interesting to read. Anything about Biblical archaeology is of interest to me and this is the focus of The Letter and the Scroll. If all things Biblical interest you or just archaeology in general - you'll love this book. It makes a lovely gift for anyone with interests in this area and displays beautifully.
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