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The Bible in Its World: The Bible and Archaeology Today Paperback – April 20, 2004
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In this 1977 book, Kitchen states in the Preface, "The study of the physical remains and of the innumerable inscriptions from the ancient Near-Eastern world is itself a complex and many-sided task. Yet, as that world is the Bible's world, the attempt is a necessary venture in order to see the books of the Bible in their ancient context. The enduring central themes of the Bible stand out clearly enough of themselves; but a more detailed understanding of the biblical writings can be gained by viewing them in relation to their ancient context."
He writes, "(W)e have no external mentions of the patriarchs themselves beyond the pages of the Bible. Therefore, their historical existence remains unproven. In this, they stand on exactly the same level as (e.g.) Jezebel, Jeremiah, Zedekiah or Ezra--none of whom is named by name in any external, contemporary document, yet whose former existence is doubted by none."
Concerning the background of the biblical prophets, he says, "Thus, the amount and relevance of ancient Near-Eastern data on 'prophecy' is necessarily limited.... one should not imagine the Hebrew prophets of a millennium later as being limited to a few stumbled ejaculations, but as men well able to speak out at similar length centuries later."
Concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance for the text of the Old Testament, he writes, "the importance of these should not be exaggerated, particularly as--again--the traditional Hebrew text is in any case generally so greatly superior in its readings to these versions."
Though older, this book may still be of interest to those interested in biblical archaeology from a popular standpoint.