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The Archaeology of Ancient Judea and Palestine Hardcover – June 1, 2005
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About the Author
Ariel Lewin is an instructor in Roman history at the University of Basilicata, Pontenza, Italy, and the author of The Roman Imperial City in the East.
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This book is written / edited entirely from such a perspective. The powerful, irrefutable, incontrovertible evidence of Israelite/Jewish life in early Israel, and of early Jewish organization into a state, is simply ignored. The Old Testament is poo-poohed countless times (although anything written in the New Testament is accepted flat-out.) This is simply scholarship gone bad, although it's intended for public reading not for scholars. And that makes it even worse.
(Anyone interested, should definitely read William G. Dever's "What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It", which deals two-fold with answering those revisionists, and also gives a wonderful survey of just what we know about the united kingdom and the early Jewish kings. Dever is not one of those "prove the Bible correct" people, by far -- he is a true archaeologist, who talks about the data that coincides with the text of the O.T., as well as the data that conflicts with it; a fascinating read for anyone.)
Back to this Lewin book. If you read it, you'll get barely a hint that there are any sites in Judea / Palestine that have anything to do with early Israelites/Jews. Instead, at site after site, it's only in the Greek period and later that suddenly there are Jews. There are times when he can't avoid it, e.g. in the description of Hebron, but even then, he tosses in a little laugh at the Jews' name for the place "Kiryat Arbah" and goes into some detail how the Jews must have invented a fourth "forefather" buried in Hebron to justify the "arbah" word... it's just non-stop, usually subtle but sometimes overt, ridicule of the concept that Jews / Israelites have any true long-standing ties to the land.
The format of the book is, after the 36-page historical intro, to go city by city, through about 18 cities or sites, giving some very nice photos and discussing each site as it relates to history, focusing on the Christian, Moslem, and Crusader eras. The photos are for the most part beautiful; the treatment of the archaeology is at best superficial, but for an "overview" type of book, not much more can be expected.
If you read the book naively, you might not even notice the absence of Israelite/Jewish material. Yet, that is precisely the danger of the new, revisionist texts such as this one. Such careful, meticulous avoidance of large bodies of archaeological evidence is a frightening thing to consider, particularly when you realize it can only have occured because there is a political agenda behind it. When I read a book about the archaeology of Judea, or Palestine, the last thing I want is to be propagandized. Surely, archaeology should be scientific enough that all the evidence can be presented and weighed in. There's plenty -- plenty! -- of archaeological knowledge out there that jibes perfectly with O.T. texts; things that prove the O.T. texts originated from that ancient time frame (e.g. specific details in the O.T. that were considered troubling or odd, until archaeology uncovered proof of their correctness), and there is also no lack of archaeological evidence out there that conflicts in various ways with the specifics of the Bible (e.g. towns that were not destroyed quite when it says, in the book of Joshua...)
Rather than give the nuanced view demanded by today's plethora of archaeological knowledge, the portrait this book paints for me is strangely silent about any Israelite early presence in the land (alongside the Canaanite, Philistine, and other cultures that are discussed frequently.) Only at the times that Greek texts, or the New Testament, speak of Jews or Synagogues, does this book finally seem to admit "okay, there were Jews there."
Frightening, indeed. Welcome to the new 1984. If you wish to fight the new Orwellian mode of thought, then do not buy this book.