Insideous insertion of religious nonsense into legitimate subjects

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Insideous insertion of religious nonsense into legitimate subjects

This article discusses the perversion of otherwise legitimate school subjects by bible believers. This shows the basis for the nonsense we readily identify on The History/Hitler/Holocaust Channel comes from an educational predisposition to take this crap seriously.


Ancient Israel in Western Civ Textbooks
Jack Cargill
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


The Project

I FREQUENTLY TEACH introductory courses in what was once generally called
"Western Civilization" and have often been called upon to referee all or
parts of the manuscripts of new editions of "Western Civ" textbooks; I am
moreover a frequent recipient of examination copies of such texts. Through
my own reading, I have become aware that much current scholarship on ancient
Israel and Judah is inclined to emphasize the comparative lateness of the
putting together of the Hebrew scriptures, and to treat the biblical
accounts of periods prior to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy^�if
not the united monarchy itself^�as being subject to strong doubts as to
their historicity. With largely disappointing results, I have searched for
awareness of these scholarly developments in the chapters and sections on
ancient Israel in what was at this writing the latest available edition of
sixteen university-level textbooks. See Appendix for the list, with full
publication data.1 1

Scholarship, Traditional and Revisionist

     Rejection of a literalist or fundamentalist reading of the history of
ancient Israel as told in the Hebrew Bible2 is nothing new. The modern phase
of biblical historical scholarship can be said to have begun with the
formulation of the "documentary hypothesis" in the late nineteenth century,
most notably by Julius Wellhausen.3 Whereas the Torah or Pentateuch (the
first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy) had
traditionally been seen as the "books of Moses," deriving from if not
actually written by Moses himself, the documentary hypothesis held that the
Pentateuch was a composite of several "documents" or "strands" produced by
several different authors at different times and subsequently combined. Two
of the major clues prompting the development of this hypothesis were (a) the
different names provided for the deity of the Israelites in different
passages within the biblical books and (b) the apparent relationship between
the book of Deuteronomy and the scroll or "book" of law said (in 2 Kings
22-23; cf. 2 Chronicles 34-35) to have been found in the temple in Jerusalem
during the reign of King Josiah of Judah (640-609 BCE).  2

     Some of the passages using different divine names (Yahweh, commonly
translated "the Lord," on the one hand, and Elohim, generally translated
simply as "God," on the other, while some passages employed both, saying
Yahweh Elohim, i.e., "Yahweh God" or "the Lord God&quotEye-wink appeared to tell the
same stories twice, often in significantly varying ways. An obvious and
frequently-cited example may be found in the two very different accounts of
the creation of humankind in Genesis 1 and 2, first by "God," then by
"Yahweh God." It was suggested that such variant stories, with different
divine names, reflected the work of different writers. Moreover, if the book
of Deuteronomy (as a whole or in part) should be identified with the scroll
"found" in Josiah's time, it was suggested that it may well have been
written at that time for purposes contemporary with its production.
Wellhausen and others finally suggested that many parts of the Torah,
especially the laws within it, were written quite late within the history of
the Israelites, during or after the "Babylonian exile" of the sixth century
BCE.  3

     Although extreme literalists have never accepted any version of the
documentary hypothesis, its essential features became generally accepted
among most serious biblical scholars, even those of decidedly conservative
inclinations. In the most common version of the hypothesis, the Pentateuchal
"strand" employing from its outset the name Yahweh (whose anonymous author
is therefore called "the Yahwist&quotEye-wink, symbolized by the letter J (the early
work on the hypothesis was done by German scholars, who spelled the name
"Jahweh&quotEye-wink, was produced in the tenth century BCE, in or near the time of
King Solomon. This strand, the hypothesis continues, was followed within a
century or so by a second strand called E ("the Elohist," which uses Elohim
for the divine name), and these two strands were at some point combined to
produce what is called JE. Then, it is suggested, in the late seventh
century (under Josiah) came Deuteronomy, its earliest version being labeled
strand D. The last major addition to the Pentateuch, according to the
hypothesis, was the aforementioned exilic or post-exilic strand, produced by
priests and therefore called P, seemingly followed by a general editing or
"redaction" of the combined strands. Many, many refinements of the
documentary hypothesis have been suggested over the years, but they need not
be discussed because they do not affect its essentials, and those essentials
have been, as said above, generally accepted.  4

     Deconstruction of the Pentateuch naturally led to similar
deconstruction of the other books of the Hebrew Bible. The "school" that
produced Deuteronomy was also credited with producing the main "historical"
books, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings, and with having edited and revised
many other books, including the Pentateuch and the collections associated
with numerous prophets. The books of Joshua and Judges were problematic,
some scholars tending to associate one or both of them closely with the
Pentateuch (thus positing a "Hexateuch" or even a "Heptateuch&quotEye-wink, others
attaching them more closely to the Deuteronomic or Deuteronomistic history
books.  5

     Scholarship agreed with ancient tradition in dating the core elements
of the prophetic books from internal clues, with Amos and Hosea seen as
quite early, Micah and Isaiah somewhat later (but all in the eighth
century), then Jeremiah in the late-seventh-early-sixth century, with
Ezekiel a younger contemporary among the exiles; other prophets were by the
content of the books attached to their names associated with the period of
"return" from exile. A commonly-accepted refinement was seeing portions of
the biblical book of Isaiah (beyond chapter 39) as the work of an exilic
writer much later than the eighth-century prophet, a writer unnamed in the
text and therefore conventionally called "Second Isaiah." It was undisputed
that 1 and 2 Chronicles were a re-writing (a tendentious re-writing, in the
opinion of many) of Samuel-Kings and even part of the Pentateuch. The
so-called "Chronicler" was commonly associated with the books of Ezra and
Nehemiah, internally dated to the fifth century BCE. Numerous other
"Writings" (the term is ancient, applied to the latest-written subsection of
the canonical Hebrew Bible, as contrasted with the Law and the Prophets)
were seen as late, with varying degrees of debate about their respective
dates (Ruth, Song of Songs, Job,4 Ecclesiastes, Esther, etc.), and the
pseudepigraphic Daniel was commonly viewed as the latest book of the canon
(some of the book is even written in Aramaic, which supplanted Hebrew as a
spoken language), usually associated with the persecutions of Antiochus
Epiphanes, the second-century Seleucid king. Books consisting of collections
(Psalms and Proverbs) were seen as having been added to over time, perhaps
over very long spans of time^�Psalms having been perhaps actually begun by
King David (to whom many Psalms are attributed in their prescripts), with
additions down to the exilic period (Psalm 137 is the most-cited example)
and even beyond. 6

     Although the essential premises of the biblical developmental process
laid out by Wellhausen and his successors were widely accepted, scholars of
different temperaments and different religious leanings drew vastly
different inferences.5 Severe textual critics such as Morton Smith found in
the biblical text itself evidence of re-writing and reinterpretation so
fundamental and pervasive as to make them view the extant Hebrew Bible as a
falsification of Israelite history.6 Conservative commentators such as
William Foxwell Albright, on the other hand, found the biblical accounts
even of very early times (the stories associated with Abraham and the other
so-called Patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt, the reception of the Mosaic law
at Mount Sinai, the conquest of Canaan, etc.) to be essentially verified and
supported by nineteenth-and-twentieth-century archaeological discoveries and
by the preserved writings of other ancient Near Eastern societies. Such
scholars argued that the biblical accounts report essentially accurate
memories that had been preserved orally or in now-lost writings until
incorporated into the biblical "strands," beginning with J in the tenth
century BCE. The Albrightean orientation became by far the more popular
viewpoint, seeming as it did to support the main elements of the biblical
account of Israelite history with extra-biblical evidence. Albright himself
and his students, notably John Bright and G. Ernest Wright, have heavily
influenced the way academics (especially in the United States) interpret the
history of ancient Israel,7 relegating critical scholars such as Smith to
the role of "voices crying in the wilderness." Certainly the treatment of
Israel in the great majority of the textbooks discussed in this article is
primarily Albrightean, a fact clearly revealed by the frequent listing of
works of Albright and his school in their recommended readings,8 along with
the virtually complete omission of works by Smith (died 1991)9 and very
limited citation of most other critics.  7

     Even more strikingly, one would never know from reading most of these
textbooks' accounts that, in the viewpoint of a substantial group of
scholars, during the last two or three decades of the twentieth century a
virtual "paradigm shift"10 in the treatment of the Hebrew Bible's
relationship to the history of Israel has been occurring, one that involves
a far more basic rejection of traditional interpretations than the
essentially text-critical approach of commentators such as Morton Smith.11
By those who disapprove of their work and their influence, members of the
current generation of severe biblical critics are called revisionists,
biblical minimalists, deconstructionists, even ideologues and nihilists.12
They themselves, of course, reject such labels, except possibly
revisionists, offering far less value-laden terms, e.g., biblical scholars,
historians, etc.13 Although this scholarly movement is international, with
some of the most pointedly critical work emanating from and written in the
languages of Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Israel, a great proportion of the
work (even from the places mentioned) is available in English, either having
been translated or having been published in that language by bilingual or
multi-lingual authors. My own recent reading of this literature has been
entirely in English,14 and I am not a trained specialist in either biblical
history15 or Near Eastern languages (I know only the most basic rudiments of
Hebrew). Everything I have consulted is as readily accessible to the
textbook authors as to me. Nor are these developments known only to
professional academics. In addition to many popularly-intelligible articles
written by specialists during recent years in widely-read periodicals,16
reference may now be made to an excellent new book intended for the general
educated public, The View from Nebo: How Archaeology Is Rewriting the Bible
and Reshaping the Middle East (2000), written by Amy Dockster Marcus, a
former Middle East Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.17 8

     The revisionists (minimalists, etc.) agree in emphasizing the
unreliability of the biblical text as evidence for the history of ancient
Israel, some of them going so far as to put "ancient Israel" in quotation
marks18 that imply that it is the creation of the biblical writers, not an
entity whose true history can ever be known. Whereas most scholars since
Wellhausen have agreed that many biblical books were edited or revised
during and/or after the "Babylonian exile," the revisionists tend to see
such late periods as the periods of the essential creation of those books,
with perhaps very minimal use of pre-existing source materials.19 Moreover,
by "late," some of these scholars (not all of them20) mean as late as the
Persian^�or even Hellenistic^�period.21 In terms of the traditional
Pentateuchal strands, not only is D earlier than P, but it is suggested that
it may well be earlier than J, whereas E is generally denied the status of
an independent strand at all, but is treated as a mere revision of J.
Conservative arguments that traditionally-dated J and E had preserved
somewhat reliable oral traditions of pre-monarchic times are denied and
dismissed as essentially impossible. Moreover, even if D is earlier than the
other strands, it is suggested that D may still be quite late, e.g., from
the Persian period.22 9

     Such conclusions are not offered arbitrarily. The findings of Levantine
archaeology over the last couple of decades23 are cited as showing that the
biblical "conquest of Canaan" never happened, nor does archaeological
evidence permit belief in anything like the biblical exodus from Egypt, and
of course the even earlier patriarchal stories are now widely seen as
creative fiction.24 Moreover, in the eyes of several minimalists, and
increasingly in those of an important faction of archaeologists, physical
evidence for the existence of the united monarchy of (Saul? and) David and
Solomon is seen as conspicuously lacking.25 The very milieu necessary for a
"Solomonic enlightenment" that might have produced J, it is suggested, may
be the literary creation of late authors.26 The surprising consistency of
the biblical viewpoint (despite all the visible seams) is itself seen as
evidence for late authorship, and it is sometimes suggested that the Hebrew
Bible makes most sense as a body of literature designed primarily to justify
the takeover of the territory that had once been the kingdom of Judah (and
more territory, if possible) by persons coming in from outside,27 denying
the claims of those who had been present in the land all along. 10

     Any short list of revisionists' names would include Thomas L. Thompson
and Niels Peter Lemche (sometimes referred to as "the Young Turks of
Copenhagen"28) and Philip R. Davies; most lists would add John Van Seters,29
G�sta W. Ahlstr�m (died 1992) and his student Diana V. Edelman,30 Keith W.
Whitelam, and Giovanni Garbini.31 S. David Sperling treats the Torah as
radically as any of the minimalists (several of whom he cites repeatedly),
although he accepts the period of the "united monarchy" as historical and
sees it as the time of the creation of much of the Torah material.32 The
archaeologist most frequently identified with the group, and most frequently
cited favorably by its members, is Israel Finkelstein,33 who himself sees
much of the writing of both the Torah and the Deuteronomistic historical
books as dating from the time of Josiah, with later revision.34 Aware of the
group's contributions, but frequently disagreeing with its conclusions, are
the authors of important histories of ancient Israel and Judah, J.M. Miller
and J.H. Hayes and J. Alberto Soggin;35 also Hershel Shanks (editor of the
magazine-format periodical Biblical Archaeology Review^�hereafter BAR^�and
author of various popular studies in the field). A once-friendly critic
whose reactions have become quite embittered is archaeologist William G.
Dever.36 The revisionists' list37 could be greatly extended,38 but these
names will serve.  11

     The viewpoint of the revisionists is far from monolithic;39 they differ
on many points, often quite important ones. Any group of scholars whose
works offer radical challenges to long-accepted positions will occasionally
overstate its case, and the Young Turks of Copenhagen and their allies are
no exception to this general rule. In a confrontation between "biblical
minimalists" and their critics orchestrated by Hershel Shanks for the cover
story of the July/August 1997 BAR, Niels Peter Lemche was so bold as to
suggest that one or more recently-discovered inscriptions seemingly having a
bearing on biblical issues might be fakes; he subsequently retracted at
least one such suggestion as "premature."40 The very devastating critique of
earlier conservative scholars offered by Keith Whitelam, notably arguments
showing the casual racism and reporting the pro-genocide comments of W.F.
Albright (directed toward the biblical Canaanites),41 tends to become
obscured by Whitelam's own indulgence in present-day pro-Palestinian and
(some suggest) anti-Israeli polemics.42 Some of Thompson's recent arguments
have been rather convincingly characterized as thinly-veiled Pauline
Christian theology.43 In the 25th anniversary issue of BAR of March/April
2001, several mainstream archaeologists and biblical scholars quoted by
editor Hershel Shanks are at pains to insist that "minimalism" is now
dying.44 Whether this conclusion represents the calm certainty of a strong
position or hopeful whistling in the dark remains to be seen. Some of their
critics' success in demonstrating that "minimalists" make overstatements and
even show biases should not blind readers to the overstatements and biases
that have always been manifest in traditional conservative commentary on the
Bible and on ancient Israel. Marcus, referring to the "Copenhagen School,"
makes a strong point: "In their effort to show that the Bible should not be
read as history, they sometimes go too far. But their detractors fail to
give them proper credit for what they have achieved. The bottom line is that
when it comes to the big picture, they are often right. Many of their ideas,
once considered far-fetched, are now solidly mainstream concepts."45 12

Textbooks' Treatment of Ancient Israelite History

     In the survey of textbooks' handling of Israel's history that follows,
I have included enough directly-quoted passages to show that interpretations
based on the biblical narrative itself or on quite conservative scholarship
are the norm. Such quotes could be multiplied, but I have contented myself
with presenting in connection with each major topic a selection of striking
statements and simply citing other textbooks' pages on which similar
passages appear^�often at the end of my discussion of the topic, preceded by
"See also." On matters of how textbooks report information (kings' regnal
years, dates of events, etc.), where the issue is not phrasing but the
consistency, inconsistency, or range of answers provided, I have saved space
by summarizing my findings, rather than citing the specific information
provided in each text. 13

     Disclaimers, but hedging. Only a handful of the surveyed textbooks'
chapters or sections on ancient Israel (e.g., those in Hause, Kagan, and
Perry) could be plausibly described as consistently following something
close to a biblical-literalist line. Hause 40a, e.g., says that the Jewish
religion was "inspired by revelations that can be dated with some accuracy."
Many of the texts offer what appear to be serious disclaimers as to the
historical reliability of the Hebrew Bible. Hunt 31a admits: "Unfortunately,
no source provides clear information on the origins of the Hebrews or of
their religion. The Bible tells stories to explain God's moral plan for the
universe, not to give a full historical account of the Hebrews, and
archaeology has not yielded a clear picture"; 33a: The Israelites'
"distinctive religion and way of life ... both took much longer to evolve
than the biblical account describes." McKay 41a says that the Hebrew Bible,
"though it contains much historical material, ... also contains many Hebrew
myths and legends"; 60a refers to "the difficult question of how much of the
Hebrew Bible can be accepted historically." See also Noble 51b, 52b. But
even the authors making such disclaimers frequently couple them with other
comments that appear to treat the biblical account as literal reportage of
historical events, or they combine such disclaimers with attributions of
dating, which seem to me to imply a belief that something happened, however
tenuously it might be related to event(s) reported by tradition.  14

     Abraham's existence, homeland, and covenant. None of the texts
consulted, for example, comments on the blatant anachronism of the Bible's
reference to "Ur of the Chaldaeans" (Genesis 11.31) as the original home of
the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. Yet whenever the Chaldaeans emerged as the
dominant group in southern Mesopotamia, it was certainly centuries later
than any period in which Abraham supposedly inhabited the old Sumerian city
of Ur.46 McNeill 69 cites "Biblical tradition" for Abraham's leaving Ur, but
supplies an approximate date ("perhaps about 1900 B.C.&quotEye-wink and says: "There is
nothing intrinsically improbable about this traditional account."47
Hollister 28b-29a begins discussing Abraham and his covenant as if only
reporting the tradition in Genesis, but ends up speculating about what
Abraham thought and believed, i.e., treating him as a real person. Abraham's
"covenant" with Yahweh is treated as historical in some of the texts. See
also Kishlansky 25a; King 48b. 15

     The Hebrew nation in Egypt. Most of the texts accept the biblical
"sojourning" and enslavement in Egypt, some putting the migration by the
Hebrews into Egypt as early as the time of the Hyksos rulers (ca. 1648-1540
on Am�lie Kuhrt's chronology), perhaps as part of a wave of Semites entering
the Delta; some even earlier; others simply supply varying dates. Hollister
30a has the Hebrews in Egypt during the mid-1300s reign of Akhenaten, but
says that they, being "at the bottom of the Egyptian social order, remained
unaffected" by his religious reform; 29b says "the Hebrew community in Egypt
clearly also included kindred folk and probably other Semitic people"; 30a
adds the suggestion that while there, "the Hebrews may have extended their
covenant of Abraham to include greater numbers of oppressed people." King
48b-49a suggests that "The Israelites...thought of Canaan as their homeland
despite generations of slavery in Egypt." See also Kagan 25a; Hollister 4
chr., 28 chr. Those who name a "Pharaoh of the oppression" tend to name
Ramesses II or possibly his son Merneptah.48 Suggested exodus dates
generally range over the span 1300-1200 BCE.  16

     Moses, exodus, Sinai, wanderings. The various elements of the biblical
story of Moses^�the exodus event itself, his epiphany on Mount Sinai (or
Horeb), his reception of the Ten Commandments, his renewal and/or revision
of the divine covenant earlier made with Abraham, and his leadership through
the years of "wilderness wandering"^�are handled with varying degrees of
distancing by the textbook authors, but almost none of them denies the
stories some historicity. Noble 51b-52a introduces discussion with
"According to the biblical account," reports that the Israelites "are said
to have" made a covenant with Yahweh, and describes the approximate date
provided as being according to "those who accept its historicity," but then
reports as if factual: "The Exodus ... is one of the rare examples of a
successful national liberation movement in antiquity.... The Exodus is also
one of the central events in the history of ancient Israel, because it
marked another covenant.... In return for obedience to Yahweh's
commandments, they would be God's chosen people.... The ... covenant ... in
form and style ... bears a certain similarity to the treaties of
international diplomacy of the period 1400-1200 B.C.[, which] suggests the
genuine antiquity of the biblical tradition..."; the intro. to 55 box
reiterates: "The central event in the history of ancient Israel was the
covenant, or treaty, at Sinai...." Greaves 34b informs readers: "Historians
have been frustrated by the absence of unmistakable references in Egyptian
records to the sojourn of the Hebrews, but this omission is not decisive,"
and says that "the Exodus was the formative event of the Jewish faith...."
Hunt 33a, although offering several comments indicating the problematic
nature of the biblical evidence, nonetheless casually uses "[i]n the time of
Moses" as a dating formula, and couples references to "Israel" on
Merneptah's stele and to "[t]he Hebrews who fled from Egypt with Moses."
Hause 41a explains: "The Ten Commandments [were] brought down by Moses from
Mt. Sinai and delivered to the people of Israel before their entry into
Canaan," though the law based on them "evolved over time." King 48a reports
the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan already "endowed with a religious
and ethical tradition that constituted the world's first major monotheism,"
adding (48b): "Moses not only had led his people out of Egypt, but also had
bestowed upon them, carved in stone, the law code decreed by their one God";
later (49a), David "hoped to build a temple to Yahweh that would house the
Ark of the Covenant, the shrine containing the two stone tablets inscribed
with the Ten Commandments." Cannistrato 41b: The Ark in Solomon's temple had
been "handed over by Moses"; 42b: "Moses' encounter with God on Mount Sinai
produced the basis for Hebrew law...." See also McKay 41b, 44a-45a; McNeill
69; Cannistraro 41a; Hollister 30a; Hause 39a, 43a; Chodorow 25a, 26a; Kagan
30b; Kishlansky 25b, 28a, 28 map; Esler 29; Perry 33a.49 17

     Conquest and "chasing after baals." The biblical "conquest of Canaan"
by Hebrews coming from outside seems to be generally accepted by the
textbooks' authors; Noble 51a : "Through a combination of the biblical
narrative and archaeological evidence, Israelite history after 1200 B.C. is
relatively easy to trace." In the main, however, they implicitly deny the
whirlwind nature of Joshua's triumph as reported in the Bible^�most of them
not even mentioning Joshua by name.50 They prefer instead to follow scholars
who stretch the process over a couple of centuries,51 most commonly ca.
1200-1000 BCE. Several supply details, reflecting different degrees of
literal acceptance of the biblical narrative. Kishlansky 28a refers to the
years "wandering in the desert and then slowly conquering Canaan" as the
period in which the Israelites (some of them originally Egyptians) developed
their identity and faith, in that "they adopted the oral traditions of the
clan of Abraham as their common ancestor and identified his god, El, with
Yahweh," whom they had taken over from the Midianites. "Inspired by their
new identity and their new religion, the Israelites swept into Canaan,"
where the local populations either "accepted the religion of Yahweh" and
welcomed the invaders or were "slaughtered"^�no other alternatives being
mentioned. Hunt 33a also refers to the adoption of Yahweh from the
Midianites, and says: "The Hebrew tribes joined their relatives who had
remained in Palestine and somehow carved out separate territories for
themselves there." See also Perry 33a; McNeill 69, 71. Some texts are
willing to rationalize the Bible's "backsliding" into polytheism and
understand it as the pre-monotheist norm among the Israelites. McKay 41b-42a
concedes: The Hebrews, "not always hostile[,]...freely mingled with the
Canaanites, and some went so far as to worship Baal..."; a golden calf
statuette found at Ashkelon in 1990 is interpreted as archaeological support
for the biblical account. Compare Greaves 35a, 37a-b; Hunt 33a.  18

     Kings of the united monarchy. The textbook authors generally equate the
establishment of the Israelite kingdom with the choosing of Saul as its
first king, supplying approximate dates. Inconsistencies seem to be largely
a matter of seeing (sometimes implicitly) David as the monarchy's "true"
founder, e.g., the foundation of the monarchy may be given the same date as
the beginning of his reign, even though Saul is mentioned as king before
him. The texts offer varying dates for Saul, David, and Solomon, ranging
generally from shortly before 1000 to somewhere in the 920s.52 Such dates
are all guesswork based on biblically-reported reign-lengths,53 calculated
backwards from the traditional approximate date for the end of Solomon's
reign. None of the texts even mentions scholars' suggestions that the
"united monarchy" itself might be fictional. 19

     Early writing down of scriptures. Essentially following the most
conventional version of the documentary hypothesis and showing obliviousness
to all more recent suggestions, the textbook authors usually put the
beginning of the writing down of the Hebrew scriptures in the period of the
united monarchy^�if not earlier. King's first chapter begins (4a) with the
scene from Genesis 22 of Abraham's not-quite sacrifice of Isaac, described
thus: "Written down nearly 3000 years ago, this story originated even
earlier, not long after the appearance of the first human civilization."
Noble 50a assures readers that "Much of the Hebrew based on
written sources that probably date back at least as far as the early
Israelite monarchy of about 1000 B.C. Some scholars trace these written
sources back several centuries earlier, to... Moses and the laws he is said
to have promulgated." Perry 34a says: "Under Solomon, Israel...experienced a
cultural flowering: some magnificent sections of the Old Testament were
written...." Hollister 31a sees the earliest version of the Torah as having
been "probably put into written form during Solomon's reign." See also
Hollister 29a, 31b; McKay 31a, 41a; Hunt 33a; Chodorow 25a; Stearns 28 chr.;
Greaves 34b. 20

     Empire and capital city. Ignoring recent archaeological arguments
concerning Jerusalem and several other sites, the textbooks are essentially
unanimous about the greatness and splendor of the "united monarchy" under
David and Solomon. Greaves 35a insists that David "made Jerusalem into an
impressive capital," Solomon ruled "an elegant city," and the temple
reconstructed after that of Solomon was destroyed "never recovered the
grandeur of earlier times."54 Hollister 33a puts the expansion under David
and Solomon "in the eleventh [sic!] and tenth centuries B.C.," elsewhere
(31a) saying that under David and Solomon Israel extended to the upper
Euphrates, while "[t]he Phoenician cities retained their independence only
through...submissive cooperation" and "Solomon made Jerusalem the
cosmopolitan capital of a wealthy empire." Spielvogel says (33b) that David
"established control over all of Palestine" and (32) that Solomon "created a
strong, flourishing state." See also Kagan 29b-30a; Hunt 52a; Noble 52b;
Esler 27; King 49a; Hause 39b. Esler 27 and Greaves 39b accept and give some
importance to the Biblical account's marriage between Solomon and the
daughter of some unnamed Egyptian pharaoh (1 Kings 3.1; 11.1).55 21

     North-south schism and why. Although some texts interpret the biblical
split of the united monarchy into the northern kingdom of Israel and the
southern kingdom of Judah as prompted by economic and regional factors, some
see a religious dimension in the north's secession, e.g., McKay 42b: "In the
eyes of some people, [Solomon] was too ready to unite other religions with
the worship of the Hebrew god Yahweh"; 43a: "With political division went a
religious rift: Israel, the northern kingdom, established rival sanctuaries
for gods other than Yahweh." Taking an opposite theological line, Kishlansky
30a says: "The northern region, demanding that aspirants to the throne
should be tested for their faithfulness to Yahweh, broke off to become the
kingdom of Israel...." Kagan 30a offers the puzzling comment that Solomon's
"sons" (plural) could not hold the kingdom together.56 See also Perry 34a;
Cannistraro 41b; King 49a; Hause 39b. 22

     Two kingdoms, Judah, law and prophets. The period of the two kingdoms
and of Judah after the fall of Israel to the Assyrians is a period for which
external written sources (primarily Assyrian and Babylonian) are
comparatively abundant. The key political events reported in the Bible, all
with important impact on interpretations of Israelite/Judahite history and
its meanings, were the fall of the northern capital Samaria in 722 or 721,57
Sennnacherib's invasion of Judah in 701,58 the so-called "Deuteronomic
reformation" described as being carried out in Judah under King Josiah in
622, and the two Babylonian sieges of Jerusalem (only the first of them
confirmed by Babylonian evidence) in 598-7 and 587-6 by Nebuchadrezzar
(Biblical Nebuchadnezzar), each said to have involved deportations and the
second said to have led to the destruction of Solomon's temple and the city.
This is also the period in which scholars have generally located most of the
biblical prophets, whose spoken oracles are usually believed to have formed
at least the core of several books in the canonical collection. Although by
and large the textbooks agree with conventional scholarship in generally
following the documentary hypothesis, several of them deviate markedly from
Wellhausen's conclusion that the work of the Hebrew prophets preceded the
establishment of the "Mosaic" law; they tend instead to follow the Bible in
depicting the prophets as calling the Israelites back to observance of the
already-established law. Thus McNeill 71 argues: Although the prophets of
the eighth century and beyond created fully developed monotheism, their task
was "comparatively easy" because "Yahweh had always been a jealous god,
requiring the undivided loyalty of his people and repudiating all rivals."
Kagan 30b, having suggested that monotheism may be as old as Moses, insists
that "it certainly dates as far back as the prophets of the eighth century
B.C.E." See also Hunt 52b; Hollister 33a; King 30b; McKay 45a; Esler 29. 23

     Josiah and the Deuteronomic reformation. The documentary hypothesis is
essentially followed in regard to Josiah's reformation. Noble 50b says:
"Josiah... assembled 'the entire population, high and low,' to swear to obey
'the scroll of the covenant which had been discovered in the house of the
Lord' (the scroll probably was Deuteronomy, now the fifth book of the
Torah)"; 53a-b: "They succeeded in making the Temple...the unquestioned
religious center of the whole Israelite people, and they began the process
of canonizing the Hebrew Bible." McNeill 72 asserts: "Not long before the
conquest of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) a strenuous effort had been made to purify
the worship of Yahweh. In the course of this reform the sacred scriptures
were organized into the books of the Old Testament, almost as known today."
See also Hollister 33a; McKay 45a. Yet despite the fact that it is a
fundamental tenet of the documentary hypothesis, a hypothesis that most of
them consciously accept, none of the textbook authors ventures to suggest
that the scroll "discovered" in the temple in Josiah's reign might in fact
have been written at that time by those instigating the cultic reformation.
Compare the phrasing of Morton Smith: "It is possible, indeed likely, but
not certain, that the Deuteronomic code was the most influential forgery in
the history of the world."59 24

     Deportations to Babylonia. In discussing the "Babylonian captivity," a
primary issue is the sheer scale of both the deportations and the return,
since the biblical text clearly takes as normative and definitive the
experience of those who went through both processes, marginalizing those who
either remained in Palestine all along or stayed on in Babylonia. The
biblical narrative at 2 Kings 24.12-16, which shows signs of re-writing,
reports deportations in the time of Jehoiachin (597 BCE), including the king
himself and his entourage, providing both 10,000 and 7000 as total numbers;
2 Kings 25.6, 11-12, 21 (parallelled in Jeremiah 39.7, 9-10 and 52.11,
15-16, 27) indicates that "the remainder of the population," excepting some
few agricultural workers, followed a decade later. A more modest biblical
version (in Jeremiah 52.28-30) gives precise and much smaller numbers^�a
total figure for all the Babylonians' deportations (including a third one
after the assassination of their governor) of 4600.60 It appears that most
of the textbook authors seem to see the deportations from Jerusalem,
especially the second, as being quite large in proportion to the population
of Judah, generally accepting the large scale of deportations indicated by
the dominant biblical tradition. See the phrasing of, e.g., McKay 43b, 51a,
44a61; Hunt 46 chr., 52a, 80 chr.; Hollister 33a; King 52b, 201b; Noble
48a-b, 55a. Some of the texts actually seem to try to combine the
incompatible biblical narratives, i.e., more or less to equate deportation
of the elite with deportation of the large majority of the population. Other
texts are more ambiguous or more inconsistent, e.g., McNeill 59, 72; Perry
34b, 35a; Kagan 30a; Spielvogel 34b, 35a, 37b, 47b. A few textbooks actually
seem to say that only the elite were exiled: Cannistraro 41b; Hause 40a;
Chodorow 27b.  25

     Exilic developments. The Hebrew Bible itself says very little about
what happened among the exiles in Babylonia. The textbook authors follow the
consensus of conventional scholarship in generally agreeing that important
work in putting together the biblical books, or at least the Torah, was done
among the exiles. Commonly cited as new works produced in Babylonia are
Psalm 137 ("By the rivers of Babylon...&quotEye-wink and the prophetic corpora of
Ezekiel and "Second Isaiah"^�whose universalizing message is emphasized. The
general impression conveyed in the textbooks is that what occurred during
the exile and/or after was mostly a selection, from extensive pre-existing
written materials, many of them several centuries old. It is also generally
asserted (again without biblical or other evidence) that many practices
associated with Jewish worship began among the exiles. Thus Hollister 39a-b
says: "It was during the Babylonian Captivity that the Sabbath and dietary
codes came into focus, as well as the insistence on male circumcision and
bans on marriage outside the faith. ... The Psalms...were assembled and
edited during the Exile...." McNeill 72 is certain that the exiles in
Babylonia "possessed the sacred texts and could read and study them," which
they did in weekly meetings, each led by "a teacher (rabbi)." Noble 56b says
it is possible that the exiles put together the Torah in something like its
present form, and points out that some scholars believe that they organized
the first synagogues. See also further passages in Hollister 39a; Kagan 31
box; Hause 43a; Cannistraro 42a. 26

     Completion of the canon. Despite the emphasis given to exilic
developments, some of the texts do show awareness that the Hebrew Bible as
we now have it was not finally completed for centuries beyond. The full
development of the religion we call Judaism is also seen as coming rather
late, after the exile. Spielvogel 35a says: "It was among the Babylonian
exiles...that Yahweh...came to be seen as the only God. After the return of
these exiles to Judah, their point of view eventually became dominant, and
pure monotheism...came to be the major tenet of Judaism." Hollister 40a
argues: "It took several centuries to impose on Palestine the Judaism that
had been born in the Exile." See further Noble 43, 50a; Chodorow 25a; Perry
37a; Stearns 28 chr.; Greaves 34b; Cannistraro 40b, 56b; Hunt 33a, 46 chr.;
McNeill 74; King 30b, 49a-b. McKay 44a says: "During and especially after
the Babylonian Captivity, the exiles redefined their beliefs and practices,
and thus established what they believed was the law of Yahweh"; 47a actually
confuses the production of the Torah with that of the much later Talmud,
describing the Talmud as a work "begun during the Babylonian Captivity and
completed by the end of the sixth century B.C. [sic!]."62 27

     Return to Jerusalem and environs. The biblical tradition that the
return to what became the Persian province of Yehud63 began within a year of
Cyrus' capture of Babylon in 539, authorized by an edict of Cyrus himself,
is followed without question,64 despite testimony (also biblical65) that the
actual reconstruction of Jerusalem's temple did not occur until the reign of
Darius I (the reconstruction, on the biblical evidence, occupying the years
520-515). Given their general belief that both the exile and the return
involved quite large numbers of Judahites, it is not surprising to see
little discussion in the textbooks consulted about what some current
scholars see as the appropriation and redefining of the traditions of an
entire people by a fairly small minority. The description of the conflict in
postexilic Yehud in Hollister 39b-40a is atypically objective, reporting the
conflicting claims of various parties: the returning exiles, the "people of
the land," and the Samaritans (who "never became Jews of the new type&quotEye-wink with
considerable evenhandedness.66 Hunt 52a and 79b is unusual in emphasizing
the influence of Persian Zoroastrianism on the religion of the Hebrews. 28

     Ezra and Nehemiah. There is in the textbooks consulted a general
unconcern with (or unawareness of) the numerous source problems afflicting
the biblical texts of Ezra and Nehemiah,67 and it is frequently stated as
simple fact that Ezra attained some sort of public ratification of the
(entire) Torah in the second half of the fifth century BCE. Noble 56a
reverses without comment the Biblical sequence and puts Nehemiah a
generation earlier than Ezra, giving the latter a date that contradicts the
Persian regnal years of the biblical text; 44 chr. in entry for ca. 425 BCE:
"Judaean assembly accepts the Torah" (essentially reiterated at 50b). King
197b-198a reports: "Ezra organized the compilation of the Hebrew writings
(probably some part of the Pentateuch...^�perhaps only Deuteronomy). From a
wooden pulpit, he read the law aloud.... With that...the history of Judaism
begins." See also Hollister 39b-40a; Perry 35b. 29

The Textbooks and Historical Scholarship

     Best textbook treatments of ancient Israel. Spielvogel is on the whole
more consistent with the findings and observations of recent scholarship on
ancient Israel than any of the other textbooks surveyed.68 The Hebrews'
nomadic period, their descent from Abraham whose origins were in
Mesopotamia, their sojourn and enslavement in Egypt, Moses and the exodus,
the wilderness wanderings, their entry into Canaan, division into twelve
tribes, and conflict with the Philistines^�all are presented by Spielvogel
only as "a tradition concerning their origins and history that was
eventually written down as part of the Hebrew Bible...," with "according to
tradition" and "[a]ccording to the biblical account" further inserted within
the summary to reiterate the point that only tradition (not history) is
being reported (33a-b). This summary of tradition is followed immediately
(33b) by these observations: "Many scholars today doubt that the early books
of the Hebrew Bible reflect the true history of the early Israelites. They
argue that the early books of the Bible, written centuries after the events
described, preserve only what the Israelites came to believe about
themselves and that recently discovered archaeological evidence often
contradicts the details of the biblical account. Some of these scholars have
even argued that the Israelites were not nomadic invaders but indigenous
peoples of the Palestinian hill country." A few pages later (36a-b),
traditions about Moses and the exodus are reported in greater detail,
modified throughout by such phrases as "[t]he Israelites believed,"
"supposedly," "[a]ccording to tradition," etc. The lateness of the general
adoption of "pure monotheism" is also recognized: "For some Israelites,
Yahweh was the chief god of Israel, but many, including kings of Israel and
Judah, worshiped other gods as well"; only in exilic and post-exilic times
did monotheism become dominant (35a). And it was only "[d]uring and after
the Babylonian exile [that] the Jews recorded many of their traditions in
order to preserve their identity. These writings became the core of the
Hebrew [B]ible" (36a). Spielvogel does not adopt the full "minimalist"
position of questioning the historicity of the "united monarchy"; he treats
it as historical and allots it a subsection (33b), and "Creation of monarchy
in Israel" is the first item in his time-chart of Israelite history (53
chr.). Spielvogel does not suggest, however, that any parts of the Hebrew
Bible were written as early as the time of Solomon.  30

     McKay, in 1998, reported certain important archaeological finds that
have not yet been mentioned in any of the subsequently-published texts; the
reportage is valuable even if the interpretations offered for the historical
significance of the artifacts remain doubtful. Evidence excavated in 1990
for golden calf worship in Palestine, for example (45 illus. and caption),
hardly supports^�as McKay implies^�the specifics of the narrative of Exodus
32 (the calf created by Aaron at Sinai while Moses is atop the mountain).
This textbook is especially to be commended for reporting (43a-b) so
promptly the 1993 discovery of a ninth-century Aramaic inscription from Tel
Dan in northern Galilee that seems, in the eyes of many scholars, to mention
the "House of David"; none of the other texts mentions it. Yet the apparent
context of the phrase is misinterpreted, and the inscription is seen as
celebrating a victory of "the royal line of Israel," when the phrase (on the
most generous reading) seems to identify a king of the dynasty in Judah, in
contrast with a king of Israel (i.e., the northern kingdom), also referred
to, both of whom are defeated, not victorious.69 31

     Recommended readings: the better lists. Spielvogel's revisions of his
Suggestions for Further Reading for ed.4 involve deletion of two books by
Albright (Bright's History is retained, however) and the addition of Kuhrt's
Ancient NE (2 volumes), Soggin (though carelessly cited in his 1984 edition,
rather than its 1993 revision, Introduction), and several other
Israel-related books of the 1980s and 1990s, while retaining from the
previous edition Miller and Hayes, History, Shanks, Ancient Israel (1988),
and Lemche, Ancient Israel. Hunt, among the most recent (2001) of the
textbooks surveyed, not surprisingly has some of the most up-to-date
Suggested Readings. Books recommended in this text but not in its 1995
predecessor include Kuhrt, Ancient NE; D.C. Snell, Life in the Ancient Near
East, 3100-322 B.C.E. (1997); Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel; Norman
Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic
Faith (1993); and (all these uniquely among the textbooks surveyed) Gruen,
Heritage and Hellenism; Peter Sch�fer, Judeophobia: Attitudes Toward the
Jews in the Ancient World (1997); and Jonathan N. Tubb, Canaanites (1998).
The Suggested Reading in McKay is both more up-to-date and higher in quality
than that of any contemporary (1998) or earlier textbook, and compares very
favorably with that of the texts of 1999-2001 that were surveyed. McKay was
the earliest of the surveyed texts to list several of the comparatively
critical recent treatments, e.g., Kuhrt, Ancient NE (subsequently listed by
Spielvogel, Kagan, and Hunt); Shanks, Rise of Ancient Israel; J.R. Bartlett
(ed.), Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation (1997); Susan Niditch,
Ancient Israelite Religion (1997). The only other texts consulted that list
Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel are Kishlansky, Hollister, Noble, and
Hunt.  32

     Recommended readings: lesser lists. The conventionality of the
treatments of Israel in the other textbooks surveyed should be evident from
the numerous passages quoted above. None of them discusses ancient Israel
with anywhere near the sophistication of Spielvogel, or shows nearly as much
awareness of recent critical scholarship as Hunt or McKay. When one consults
the recommended readings sections of these other texts, the conventionality
of their historical narratives is not surprising; most of the books listed
tend to be traditional in their orientation, even if written in the 1980s
and '90s. Kagan's ed.7 finally lists some 1990s books relating to the Near
East in general, e.g., Kuhrt, Ancient NE and the 1998 second edition of W.W.
Hallo and W.K. Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History, as well as Snell,
Life in the ANE; the only new item relating more or less specifically to
Israel, however, is a collection of sources in translation edited by Hallo
and L. Younger, The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the
Biblical World (1997), apparently the first volume of an ongoing series.
Although several books written in the 1990s that relate to early
Christianity are listed by King (2000), there is only one such book (of
1992) that deals with pre-Christian Israel, and its beginning point is Ezra.
The relevant bibliographical essay in McNeill (1999) has manifestly not been
updated from ed.3 of 1979; nothing specific to Israel postdates 1960!
Perry's 1996 text is something of a special case; it is the only text
surveyed that devotes an entire chapter to ancient Israel, and its suggested
readings are both numerous (sixteen items) and specific to Israel;
nonetheless, they are generally conventional, and only one listed book dates
to the 1990s. Chodorow's ed.6 (1994), despite considerable rewriting in its
section on the ancient Israelites, makes absolutely no changes in ed.5's
bibliographies (even the misspelling of one author's name is retained),
lists nothing specifically about Israel later than 1963, and is still
listing works of 1932 and 1913 among suggested readings!70 It is very rare
to find in the texts surveyed any books listed that are written by any of
the so-called "biblical minimalists"; their works mentioned specifically in
my discussion here (text and notes) constitute the complete list of such
citations within all the textbooks surveyed.  33

Conclusion: Why This Is Important

     The textbook authors are of course correct to stress the impact the
Hebrew Bible has had on Western Civilization, and it is true that part
of that impact has been because of the inherent quality of some of its
messages, notably the demands for social justice in some of the
prophetic books71 and Second Isaiah's notion of a universal deity
available to all people. But neither ethical concerns nor historical
accuracy were by any means the major preoccupations of those who
canonized the body of scriptures that was assembled, edited, and perhaps
to a considerable extent written (in? and) after the Babylonian exile of
the elite of Judah. Most of the Hebrew Bible's message focused
essentially on the chosenness of Israel,72 on the arbitrary preference
of its god for the advancement of his people, often in direct opposition
to the interests, or even survival, of other peoples.  34

     The most important factor in the Hebrew Bible's universal impact was
that Paul and other early Christians consciously reinterpreted^�in fact
misinterpreted^�the Hebrew scriptures, teaching that the assurances of
divine favor embodied in them were equally and directly accessible to
everyone, without most of the cultic requirements and prohibitions. The
Hebrew Bible, renamed the "Old Testament" and coupled with the Greek New
Testament in a redefined "Bible," became in this unintended Christianized
form the most important and influential body of religious literature within
Western Civilization, for the simple reason that the Roman Empire and its
successors adopted Christianity as their state religion. This was the Bible
that Muhammad sought to reinterpret and supersede in creating Islam, making
Jesus, like Moses and others, another prophetic predecessor to himself. 35

     In any event, impact has little to do with historical accuracy.
Although I have given perhaps disproportionate space to severely critical
and "minimalist" historical scholarship, and I confess to considerable
sympathy for such viewpoints, the detailed treatment and abundance of
citations are offered primarily because such work is less widely known among
non-specialists than more conventional treatments. I was myself ignorant of
such ideas before I began my recent intensive period of reading, prompted by
controversies alluded to frequently in the pages of Biblical Archaeology
Review. I am certainly not insisting that authors of Western Civilization
texts for university classes should agree with the suggestions made about
ancient Israel in recent decades by scholars such as those whom I have
cited. What I am saying is that it is bad scholarship, and bad pedagogy,
simply to ignore an important body of recent work, offering adult students a
literalist-leaning account that is by scholarly standards probably twenty
years out of date. At the very least, textbook authors should include more
critical scholars' works and some minimalist works in their recommended
readings, so that students would have a chance to confront such arguments on
their own. 36

     I am presenting here a critique and a plea for improvement, not an
expos� comparable to a 1998 discussion of public school American history
textbooks in the New York Review of Books.73 I do not believe that the
writers of these sections on ancient Israel are motivated by the kind of
abject terror of giving offense or the pandering to every conceivable
pressure group described in that article. But of the textbooks I have
consulted, most of them fail to do the job, and they fall short^�in greater
or lesser degree^�for the same reason: bestowing (usually implicitly) a
special status on one particular body of ancient literature that is not
bestowed on any other. The Hebrew Bible is simply not a reliable source for
the history of ancient Israel, and the authors of the textbooks surveyed
seem largely unaware of this fact. Writers of textbooks for undergraduates
need to ask themselves: If we are content to provide students with mythical,
legendary, uncritical histories of ancient Israel, how can we have any
legitimate grounds for complaint or criticism when others are willing to
provide mythologized, fictionalized histories of other peoples and places?

Appendix: Textbooks in Which Sections on Israel Were Surveyed

Kishlansky = Mark Kishlansky, Patrick Geary, and Patricia O'Brien,
Civilization in the West, ed.4 (Longman 2001)

Hunt = Lynn Hunt, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, R. Po-chia Hsia,
and Bonnie G. Smith, The Making of the West (Bedford/St. Martin's 2001)74

Kagan = Donald Kagan, Steven Ozment, and Frank M. Turner, The Western
Heritage, ed.7 (Prentice Hall 200075)

Spielvogel = Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, ed.4 (Wadsworth

Hollister = C. Warren Hollister, J. Sears McGee, and Gale Stokes, The West
Transformed: A History of Western Society (Harcourt 2000)

King = Margaret King, The Meaning of the West (Prentice Hall 2000)

Cannistraro = Philip V. Cannistraro and John J. Reich, The Western
Perspective: A History of Civilization in the West (Harcourt Brace 1999)

Hause = Steven Hause and William Maltby, Western Civilization: A History of
European Society (Wadsworth 1999)

McNeill = William H. McNeill, A World History, ed.4 (Oxford University Press

Stearns = Peter N. Stearns, World History in Brief, ed.3 (Longman 1999)

McKay = John McKay, Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler, A History of Western
Society, ed.6 (Houghton Mifflin 199876)

Noble = Thomas F.X. Noble, Barry S. Strauss, Duane J. Osheim, Kristen B.
Neuschel, William B. Cohen, and David D. Roberts, Western Civilization: The
Continuing Experiment, ed.2 (Houghton Mifflin 1998)

Greaves = Richard L. Greaves, Robert Zaller, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts,
Civilizations of the West: The Human Adventure, ed.2 (Longman 1997)

Esler = Anthony Esler, The Western World: A Narrative History, ed.2
(Prentice Hall 1997)

Perry = Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James R. Jacob, Margaret C. Jacob, and
Theodore H. Von Laue, Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics & Society, ed.5
(Houghton Mifflin 1996)

Chodorow = Stanley Chodorow, MacGregor Knox, Conrad Schirokauer, Joseph R.
Strayer, and Hans W. Gatzke, The Mainstream of Civilization, ed.6 (Harcourt
Brace 1994)


* My warm thanks are extended to friends and colleagues who read and offered
comments on one or another draft of this article: (alphabetically) Shelley
Emmer, Dick Holland, Nancy Mautner, David Panisnick, Susan Schrepfer
(twice), Robert Sewell, Traian Stoianovich, Shanti Tangri, Barry Wittman.
Among textbook authors and biblical scholars cited in the article, drafts
were sent to John Buckler and Niels Peter Lemche, both of whom responded
graciously and encouragingly, although without specific suggestions. Most
especially I want to thank my long-time mentor Erich Gruen for reading and
offering valuable suggestions on two drafts. The editors and three readers
for this journal and one reader for another also had valuable comments to

1 In this article I cite each textbook simply by its first author's surname,
i.e., by the element to the left of each entry in the list of my Appendix.
In most cases I have consulted vol. 1 of a 2-volume edition; McNeill exists
only in a single volume; I assume no pagination problem is produced when I
employ vol. A of a 3-volume edition (Hunt) or the large single-volume
edition (Kishlansky, Kagan, Chodorow), since almost invariably the sections
consulted come within the text's first couple of chapters. Sometimes I am
aware of the specific author of the chapter(s) or section(s) on ancient
Israel, but in any case joint authors must bear communal responsibility for
their book's inadequacies, just as they collectively take credit for its
strengths. In citations of specific text passages, left and right columns
are indicated respectively by "a" and "b" attached to page numbers. Absence
of such a suffix indicates a page not divided into columns; "chr." after a
page number indicates something in a chronological chart on that page; "box"
indicates something within a boxed item on the page (usually a primary
source excerpt or some introductory or explanatory material associated with
it); similarly "map" and "illus.," etc.

2 Emphasis here and throughout this discussion is on history and on the
Bible as source material for Israelite history. No arguments are offered
here that in any way question the greatness of the Hebrew Bible as
literature, nor is any criticism offered or implied toward commentators who
deal with the Bible as a literary corpus. Thus, e.g., the brilliant
commentary of Robert Alter in works such as Genesis (Norton, New York 1996),
The David Story (Norton, New York 1999), and Canon and Creativity (Yale, New
Haven 2000) is outside the scope of this discussion. Nor does any of the
textbooks surveyed discuss the Bible in primarily literary terms (only
Cannistraro and Noble list any work by Alter among their recommended
readings, for example). They all treat the Bible as a historical source, and
my criticism relates to their generally unsophisticated and seemingly
ill-informed ways of doing this.

3 Wellhausen, author of Prologomena to the History of Ancient Israel (1881),
resigned his professorship at Greifswald, convinced that his "scientific
treatment of the Bible" made him unfit for preparing Protestant ministerial
students, an event cited as testimony to his integrity by Robert A. Oden,
Jr., The Bible without Theology (Harper and Row, San Francisco 1987) 20; cf.
Jon D. Levenson, The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical
Criticism (Westminster, Louisville 1993) 97.

4 Hollister 32b, for no obvious reason, dates the writing of the Book of Job
to the era of the prophet Isaiah.

5 See Morton Smith, "The Present State of Old Testament Studies" (1969),
reprinted in Smith, Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, ed. Shaye J.D. Cohen
(Brill, Leiden 1996), vol. 1, 37-54.

6 Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament2
(SCM, London 1987, corr. repr. of ed.1 of 1971). Other textual criticism of
comparable severity may be found in, e.g., Oden, Bib.w/out Theol.; Robert B.
and Mary P. Coote, Power, Politics, and the Making of the Bible (Fortress,
Minneapolis 1990); and Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God (Harper and
Row, San Francisco 1990). Steven L. McKenzie, King David: A Biography
(Oxford, New York 2000) probably belongs in this category, although Jack
Miles, reviewing the book in the New York Times Book Review (June 18, 2000)
11 describes McKenzie as, in his eyes, "a minimalist in maximalist company."

7 As observed by, e.g, Giovanni Garbini, History and Ideology in Ancient
Israel, tr. John Bowden (Crossroad, New York 1988, tr. of 1986 Italian ed.)
8. See also S. David Sperling, The Original Torah: The Political Intent of
the Bible's Writers (NYU Press, New York 1998) 41: "Virtually every American
biblicist or seminary graduate of a certain age grew up reading John
Bright's History of Israel,...deservedly popular in circles of religious
moderates for its attempt to balance the critical study of Israelite history
with respect and reverence for the biblical tradition." For the kind of
Brightean gymnastics admired by "religious moderates," see Perry 37b: "John
Bright... suggests a judicious balance. The religion of Moses 'did not deny
the existence of other gods,' says Bright, but it 'effectively denied them
status as gods.'"

8 Books by Albright and/or Bright are listed by Spielvogel, Cannistraro,
Hause, McNeill, Stearns, Noble, Esler, Perry, and Chodorow.

9 A listing of Pal.Parties & Pol. was included in McKay ed.4 at my
suggestion, but the description of the book in eds.5 and 6 ("Turning to
politics, M. Smith...takes a practical look at events&quotEye-wink does not show any
actual consultation of it, since Smith uses "politics" very metaphorically
for the interaction of cultic factions, not for anything comparable to the
seemingly modern use of "politics" in this phrasing. None of the other
textbooks surveyed lists any work by Smith at all.

10 Thomas L. Thompson, Journal of Biblical Literature 114 (1995) 694 says
that "such major changes of perspective have occurred in our field that
several of us have been inclined at times to speak of a paradigm shift that
potentially affects nearly every aspect of biblical studies...," refers
(696) to "the present quite profound 'paradigm shift' that has overtaken our
field," and asserts (698) that newly-found knowledge "has changed the very
paradigm within which scholarship operates today." See similar language in
Philip R. Davies, In Search of 'Ancient Israel' (JSOT, Sheffield 1992, corr.
repr. 1995, 1999) 11, 15, 25; Keith L. Whitelam, The Invention of Ancient
Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History (Routledge, London 1996) 177
cites "claims of a major paradigm shift" by himself, Davies, Thompson, and
Niels Peter Lemche. Sperling, Original Torah 41 asserts that "there was a
radical shift in the scholarly consensus" between the publications of
Bright's History of Israel (1972) and Lemche's Ancient Israel (1988). Amy
Dockster Marcus, The View from Nebo: How Archaeology Is Rewriting the Bible
and Reshaping the Middle East (Little, Brown, Boston 2000) 21 refers to "the
seismic shift ...under way in archaeology" that affects biblical issues.
Mike Carter, a letter writer to Biblical Archaeology Review 26.4 (2000) 68,
sees both Thompson and his critic William G. Dever as representing different
points along the same paradigm shift.

11 Sperling, Original Torah 51-52 shows very effectively both the strength
and weakness of Smith's approach.

12 Fr�d�ric Gangloff, Theological Review 19 (1998) 27 n. 49 lists the
pejorative terms used to describe scholars and works (works of which he
approves); all of the scholars he names are named in my paragraph here.
Showing the casual use of extremely negative labels, a review by L.H. Lesko,
BAR 26.4 (2000) 59 says that a book about Israel in Egypt "might be welcomed
by some as an antidote to the nihilists who consider the Exodus story total
fiction," but alas the book is seen as more or less playing into their

13 Perhaps with tongue in cheek, Thompson, JBL 114 (1995) 697 suggests that
an appropriate label would be "Neo-Albrighteans," because of his group's
"insistence on external evidence before assuming the historicity of biblical
narratives, themes, and motifs" and "also because of its insistence on
independent evaluation of biblical and other data useful for historical
descriptions of the southern Levant, and because of its efforts to integrate
and critically synthesize the several sub-branches of the history of the
ancient Near East." William G. Dever, Near Eastern Archaeology 61.1 (1998)
43 dismisses this description (spelling it "Neo-Albrightian&quotEye-wink as "patently
absurd." Lemche, Prelude to Israel's Past: Background and Beginnings of
Israelite History and Identity, tr, E.F. Maniscalco (Hendrickson, Peabody,
MA 1998; German ed. 1996) xv does indeed appear ready to describe himself as
a "minimalist."

14 My English-only statement is meant to strengthen the point that each
textbook author could just as easily have become aware of this scholarship
as I did; the new work is not at all obscure, it is readily accessible and
much discussed. As several notes have already shown, I have read, and I feel
free to cite, literature published up to my time of final revision, the
later elements of which were of course unavailable to the authors of
textbooks published earlier than, or contemporarily with, the literature
itself. Almost all of the "minimalist" scholars I cite were already making
similar points in publications within the 1980s, some in the 1970s, and a
few even earlier. I see no distortion involved in citing what seem to me to
be the fullest or clearest or most accessible formulations of their
positions, whether early or late.

15 My historical fields at the Ph.D. level are Greek and Roman history, and
my scholarly publishing has been mostly in the Greek area. But I also
managed to work in a few graduate courses in ancient Israelite history and
scriptures, and this background combined with a great deal of self-directed
reading has enabled me to teach my department's survey course in the ancient
Near East, as well as various undergraduate seminars on biblical topics. My
single publishing foray into the biblical field, "David in History: A
Secular Approach," Judaism 35.2 (1986) 211-222, shows very clearly my lack
of exposure at the time to most of the literature cited here; I worked
purely as a textual critic, influenced primarily by Morton Smith,
correspondence with whom was cited in my article's notes. For a greatly
superior and more detailed effort along somewhat similar lines, see
McKenzie, King David.

16 See, e.g., John Noble Wilford, "A New Armageddon Erupts over Ancient
Battlefield: Archaeological Finds Challenge Chronologies of the Israelites,"
New York Times (Jan. 4, 2000) F1, F6. Beyond the very numerous relevant
articles in recent volumes of BAR (many of which are cited below), articles
germane to the controversy and written by archaeologists active in current
excavations appear in, e.g., the issues of the magazine-format periodical
Archaeology for May/June and Sept./Oct. 1998 and Nov./Dec. 1999.

17 The review of this book by Jodi Magness, BAR 26.5 (2000) 62, 64, 66 seems
to me rather unfair in treating it in tandem with a fundamentalist tract
entitled The Bible Is History and seeing the two as flawed in similar ways;
inadequacies in Marcus' discussion of issues about Qumran caused Magness,
she says, to 'realize' that "Marcus's presentation in an earlier chapter of
the so-called minimalist-maximalist debate about early Israel is similarly
lopsided toward the minimalists." She concludes: "While the evidence Marcus
puts forth is not necessarily incorrect (at least, not strictly speaking),
the manner in which it is presented gives readers a false or misleading
impression of at least some of these scholarly debates." In my view Marcus
is simply giving more exposure to less widely known views; her discussion of
minimalists vs. maximalists is not misleading at all, though her sympathies
do indeed appear to lie more with the minimalists.

18 See Davies, In Search of 'Ancient Israel'. Marcus, V.f.Nebo 117 and
242-244 describes this book's impact.

19 Lemche, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 3.1 (2000) 14: "The biblical picture
of ancient simply an invented history with only a few referents
to things that really happened or existed. ... It is something sprung out of
the fantasy of biblical historiographers and their modern paraphrasers,
i.e., the historical-critical scholars of the last two hundred years."

20 Van Seters, In Search of History (Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, IN 1997,
repr. of 1983 ed.) 8 dates "the earliest Israelite histories in the sixth
century B.C." and comments at 217, 287, 323, and 359 imply an exilic date,
without quite unequivocally saying so; he is certainly interpreted in this
sense by Lemche, Prelude 224.

21 Lemche, Prelude 219-225 provides an admirably clear summary of the
arguments for and against four commonly-accepted dates for the beginning of
the composition of the Pentateuch: the traditional tenth-century "Solomonic"
period, the late-seventh-century reign of Josiah, the sixth-century period
of "exile," and the Persian or Hellenistic periods. In the words of
Thompson, The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel
(Basic Books, London 1999) 67-68, "Within the context of the Persian or
Hellenistic renaissance, the authors of the tradition created the
understanding of the population of Palestine as Israel...not as it once
existed in an earlier period, but in a way that was meaningful for
themselves." Garbini, History & Ideology 16 says the biblical "texts are all
thought to be much older than they really are," and provides specific and
often very late examples at, e.g., xiii-xiv, 63, 95, 109, 132. Davies,
Search 113 says the "geographical perspective" of the 'exilic' poet Second
Isaiah is not Babylon but Palestine and "later," claiming in the process to
have solved a problem that had troubled Morton Smith. Sperling, Original
Torah 5-6 also dates Second Isaiah to the Persian period.

22 Davies, Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures
(Westminster, Louisville 1998) 93-99 offers some very cogent reasons for
seeing the book of Deuteronomy as a product of the Persian period and for
seeing the account in 2 Kgs. of the "finding of the law book" as purely

23 See, e.g., Finkelstein and Nadav Na'aman (eds.), From Nomadism to
Monarchy: Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel (Ben-Zvi,
Jerusalem 1994). Marcus, V.f.Nebo discusses the many archaeological digs
that have contributed to changes in scholars' interpretations, reporting
numerous conversations she has had with archaeologists; see the long list of
names in her Acknowledgements, pp. x-xi.

24 Sperling, Original Torah 7-8: "Israel was never enslaved in Egypt, so
consequently there was no exodus and no trek through the desert. The people
'Israel' did not come from outside the land, so there was no conquest," and
at 8-9: "...I am compelled to read the Torah allegorically because it cannot
be read historically...[;] nothing in the Torah is historical." Lemche, JHS
3.1 (2000) 11 is forthright: "1999 represents the silver anniversary of the
final settlement^�represented by the contributions of Thomas L. Thompson and
John Van Seters^�with the idea that there ever was a patriarchal period."
Note also the admissions of Dever, in an encounter with revisionists
moderated by Hershel Shanks in BAR 23.4 (1997) 29: "...the Exodus and the
conquest...are a bad case. I agree with you.... If you guys think
looking for the Israelite conquest archaeologically, you're wrong. We've
given that up. We've given up the patriarchs. That's a dead issue." See also
Marcus, V.f.Nebo 31-32 on Abraham.

25 In this connection, several cite the conclusions of David W.
Jamieson-Drake, Scribes and Scholars in Monarchic Judah: A
Socio-Archeological Approach (Almond, Sheffield 1991) [his spelling].
Lemche, JHS 3.1 (2000) 11: "...Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C.E....was at
most a village or a small town." Thompson, Mythic Past 164 goes further:
"Only after Lachish had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 701 does
Jerusalem develop the political or economic structures and capacity of a
city.... Jerusalem is not known to have been occupied during the tenth
century." Marcus, V.f.Nebo 105-128 (Chapter 4: "In Search of David and
Solomon&quotEye-wink is an excellent overview of excavations and issues; see also
138-143. One of the issues raised by recent illegal earth-moving operations
by the Muslim religious authority in control of the Temple Mount, Waqf, in
the words of Israeli archaeologist Ronny Reich, BAR 26.2 (2000) 14, is "that
the material hauled away from the Mount might even have contributed to the
debate on whether Jerusalem was a significant city in the tenth century
B.C., the era of King David."

26 The "empire" of David and Solomon has become the chief remaining
battleground between minimalists and more traditional scholars, with the
latter eager to assign dates for all possible monumental remains^�especially
in Jerusalem but also in other places mentioned in the biblical account of
the united monarchy^�to the tenth century, thus making the remains definable
as Davidic or (usually) Solomonic. The later dating suggested for remains at
Megiddo and other places by Israel Finkelstein, which would move several
traditionally "Solomonic" complexes into the period of the ninth-century
northern kingdom dynasty of Omri and Ahab, is perceived as especially to be
opposed whenever and wherever possible. Sometimes defenders of traditional
dating become rather obviously overzealous, e.g., when Shanks supplies the
title "Will Tel Rehov Save the United Monarchy?" to an article by the site
excavator Amihai Mazar and John Camp, BAR 26.2 (2000) 38-48, 50-51, 75.
Mazar himself protests, in a letter in ib. 26.4 (2000) 69, saying that the
title "was chosen by the editors, not by us" and characterizing it as "at
least overstated and at most inaccurate." Note also the defensive language
in three articles in ib. 26.3 (2000) by John Monson (p. 35), Lawrence E.
Stager (p. 47) and Gabriel Barkey (pp. 50, 56-57). Shanks returns to this
preoccupation in an article entitled "The Missing Millennium in Jerusalem's
Archaeology," ib. 26.5 (2000) 34-37; the same concern in equally evident in
his review, ib. 26.6 (2000) 64, 66, 68, 71 of Finkelstein, David Ussishkin,
and Baruch Halpern, Megiddo III^�The 1992-1996 Seasons, 2 volumes (2000).

27 From Babylonia if during the Persian period, from the Jewish diaspora in
general if from the Hellenistic period.

28 The phrase is used by, e.g., Walter Dietrich in Volkmar Fritz and Philip
R. Davies (eds.), The Origins of the Ancient Israelite States (JSOT,
Sheffield 1996) 196. Cf. Shanks' citation of Lawrence E. Stager's referring
to certain biblical minimalists as the "Copenhagen dyspeptics," BAR 24.2
(1998) 61. Marcus, V.f.Nebo 117-123 discusses what she calls "the Copenhagen
School" in some personal detail.

29 Although Van Seters is not always currently listed among biblical
minimalists, Thompson, Mythic Past xii-xiii stresses the impact of his
pioneering work of the 1970s.

30 She edited his posthumously-published magnum opus (990 pages), The
History of Ancient Palestine, with a contribution by Gary O. Rollefson
(Fortress, Minneapolis 1993, 1994).

31 Among revisionists, Lemche, The Israelites in History and Tradition
(Westminster, Louisville 1998) 157 lists Davies, Thompson, himself, and
Whitelam. Whitelam, Invention 176-177 lists all these as persons involved in
"what we might term the 'new search' for ancient Israel," along with
Ahlstr�m, R. Coote, and Finkelstein.

32 Sperling, Original Torah 7-9, e.g. See the carping review by Shanks, BAR
25.3 (1999) 6, 59 and a more informative one by Levenson, JBL 119 (2000)

33 See, e.g., Lemche, Israelites in H&T 65: "...especially Finkelstein's
studies have revolutionized the study of the archaeology of Palestine in the
transition period, c. 1250-850 B.C.E..."; Whitelam, Invention 176: "The work
of Finkelstein is distinctive and important for the direction of future
discussions, being the publication and analysis of new and vital survey data
by a professional archaeologist." Thompson, Mythic Past xiv describes as
being "overwhelmingly important" in his own "re-education" two books,
Lemche's Early Israel and Finkelstein's The Archaeology of the Israelite
Settlement. Finkelstein is a major presence throughout Marcus, V.f.Nebo;
see, e.g., 21, 97, 99-101, 110-114, 137-143, 146, 150-151, 243, 256-258.
Shanks, reporting on attending a scholarly symposium, is quite harsh on a
presentation given there by Finkelstein, quoting comments against him from
several more conservative scholars, BAR 26.3 (2000) 6, 63-64; cf. the highly
favorable review of two volumes of survey reports by Finkelstein and others
in the very same issue (p. 62, by Eric M. Meyers).

34 Finkelstein's own general interpretation is now readily available in his
new book (with Neil Asher Silberman), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New
Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (Free Press, New
York 2001). See early reviews by Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times (Jan. 6,
2001), available online at; Phyllis
Trible, New York Times Book Review (Feb. 4, 2001) 16-17; and Dever, BAR 27.2
(2001) 60, 62. This book is reviewed along with Marcus, V.f.Nebo by Laura
Miller in the online periodical (Feb. 7, 2001); see

35 Miller and Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (Westminster,
Philadelphia 1986); Soggin, An Introduction to the History of Israel and
Judah, tr. John Bowden (Trinity, Valley Forge, PA 1993 ^� a complete
revision and updating of ed.1 of 1984, which had been entitled History of
Israel; the change in title explicitly reflects the impact of recent
critical scholarship).

36 Dever contributed an article to a collection edited by Diana Edelman, The
Fabric of History (JSOT, Sheffield 1991) 103-115, which included articles by
Edelman herself (13-25), Thompson (65-92), and Ahlstr�m (116-141), among
others; in it he had friendly words for "several recent biblical
historiographers of the socioanthropological school", singling out "for
their courage, if nothing else" (i.a.) Whitelam, Van Seters, Lemche,
Garbini, and Thompson (p. 109). In BAR 23.4 (1997) 33-35 Dever and Thompson
engaged in some rather tense dialogue (Dever in 1967 led an excavation in
which Thompson worked under him; they remember the experience very
differently). In NEA 61.1 (1998) 39-52 Dever flat-out denounces Thompson,
Davies, Whitelam and other revisionists, whom he labels ideologues and
nihilists. Thompson, Mythic Past 202-203 gives his version of the 1967
excavation. Marcus, V.f.Nebo 119, 122-123 provides interesting details on
Dever and his quarrel with Thompson. Dever reviews Thompson's new book in
BAR 25.5 (1999) 64, 66, taking the same hostile line; cf. the quite
favorable review of Norman K. Gottwald, ib. 66-68 and the somewhat
conciliatory letter by Thompson in response to Dever's review, ib. 26.1
(2000) 6, 8. Dever has not modified, has indeed rather stepped up his
attacks, as in his contribution, entitled "Save Us from Postmodern
Malarkey," to a reprise of the minimalist-maximalist controversy in ib. 26.2
(2000) 28-55, 68-69; his simple equation of biblical minimalism with
"postmodernism" prompts a salutary correction by reader Bruce Wildish in a
letter to ib. 26.4 (2000) 62. Dever's review of Finkelstein and Silberman,
Bible Unearthed in BAR 27.2 (2001), while saying many positive things about
the book, nonetheless expresses fear that its "data will simply be co-opted
by the more radical 'revisionists' and will lend respectability to more
Bible bashing" (p. 62). Dever's own What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and
When Did They Know It? Archaeology and the Reality of Ancient Israel
(Eerdmans 2001) was still forthcoming as this article was being completed.

37 Thompson, JBL 114 (1995) 696-697 n. 37 lists many authors and works he
sees as contributing to the current "paradigm shift"; see also the extensive
bibliographies in Gangloff, Theol.Rev. 18 (1997) 100-101 and Dever, NEA 61.1
(1998) 51-52. Probably now the best available list both of books by
revisionists and of "[i]mportant works of traditional scholarship"
(differentiated as such) is to be found in the "Recommended Reading" of
Thompson, Mythic Past xvii-xix. Marcus, V.f.Nebo 249-265 ("Notes on
Sources&quotEye-wink is useful, but less easy to use.

38 Although I have not seen it cited on either side in the debate, I see
Donald Harman Akenson, Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the
Talmuds (Harcourt Brace, New York 1998) as essentially a minimalist work,
since it treats the core of the entire collection Genesis-Kings as having
been produced during the exile, then subsequently re-edited. Erich S. Gruen,
Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition (Univ. of Calif.
Press, Berkeley 1998), e.g., does not discuss the creation of the canonical
Hebrew Bible, but his treatment of the development of certain Greek
additions to the Writings is very similar to the revisionists' treatments of
the biblical books, sufficiently so as to make it appear that he is in
general sympathy with their outlook and methods.

39 Thompson, JBL 114 (1995) 696 counters an attack on himself, Davies,
Lemche, and Ahlstr�m by Iain Provan, saying that the latter's labels
inappropriately lump together "a Joycean Catholic Irish American emigree
[sic!], a Welsh atheist, a happy Protestant Dane, and a rather
disrespectfully Protestant Swede." Marcus, V.f.Nebo 117, referring to the
"Copenhagen School," says that "they don't agree enough even among
themselves to fill a classroom, let alone a school."

40 Suggestions made at BAR 23.4 (1997) 36-38 and partially retracted at
Lemche, Israelites in H&T 182 n. 38. Reactions to such overstatements have
been universally critical, even among friendly commentators, e.g., Marcus,
V.f.Nebo 118-119.

41 Whitelam, Invention 82-84.

42 See the very negative reaction of, e.g, Dever, NEA 61.1 (1998) 44-46,
including a paragraph with the subtitle "Anti-Semitism?" For some
revisionists' responses to such charges, see comments reported in Marcus,
V.f.Nebo 118. Innuendo persists: Frank Moore Cross, BAR 27.2 (2001) 29 is
cited by Hershel Shanks as follows (without clarifying or providing data):
"Cross also noted another factor, 'something that is not talked about too
much: They're kept alive by anti-Semitism. It bothers me.'"

43 Charles David Isbell, in a blistering November 1999 on-line review of
Thompson, Mythic Past, makes such arguments. See the review at showrev.cgi?path=32376943908835. Shanks
hostilely reprints an excerpt from Mythic Past in BAR 26.2 (2000) 36-37,
giving it the title "Can You Understand This?"

44 BAR 27.2 (2001) 22-25, 29-31, 35, esp. 29, reporting such statements by
Ephraim Stern, Lawrence Stager, Frank Moore Cross, Philip King, and Amnon
Ben-Tor, with more moderate reactions from David Noel Freedman and Eric

45 Marcus, V.f.Nebo 120. A similar statement is quoted from a professor in
an Orthodox university in Israel, p. 121. Philip Davies, participating in a
minimalist-maximalist confrontation called by Shanks "The Search for History
in the Bible," BAR 26.2 (2000) 22-51, 68-75, entitles his own contribution
"What Separates a Minimalist from a Maximalist? Not Much," and argues
accordingly, pp. 24-27, 72-73.

46 See Am�lie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East c. 3000-330 B.C. (Routledge,
London 1995) 399, where an imprecise date early in the first millennium BCE
is suggested for the Chaldaeans' earliest attestation^�even this date being
long before they became dominant in the region. The implication of the
Biblical phrase has often been pointed out, e.g., a quarter-century ago by
John Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition (Yale, New Haven 1975)
121, 310. See also Marcus, V.f.Nebo 47.

47 Abraham's place of origin is variously given in the textbooks as Ur,
Harran, or Mesopotamia (unspecified); he is dated mostly within 100 years
before or after 1900 BCE.

48 Marcus, V.f.Nebo 54-57 (see also 70), reporting on visits to the Cairo
Museum, shows both the offensive questions and the silly explanations
prompted by the exodus legend; 63-65 describes recent Egyptian efforts to
"rehabilitate" the reputation of Ramesses II because he is thought of as the
"oppressor" Pharaoh.

49 Hollister 30b includes in its discussion of Moses' receiving of the Ten
Commandments the statement that "it became custom to pronounce the word
Adonai ('the Lord') where the text read 'YHWH,'" as if there were any
conceivable temporal connection between this very late pious development
within Judaism and the supposed history of the Sinai epiphany!

50 Exceptions: King 48b says that the leadership of the Israelite invaders
"by Joshua, lieutenant of Moses" is attested by Exodus 1-15 (these chapters
actually describe the exodus from Egypt itself, not mentioning Joshua at
all). Then (49a) "Joshua's dramatic capture of Jericho...was allegedly
accomplished by faith and the sound of trumpets." "In reality," however,
much remained to be done "after the death of Joshua"; see also Hollister
30b. Stearns 28 chr. and Chodorow 26a do not mention Joshua, but indicate a
rapid conquest.

51 In scholarly terms, they modify Albright's "conquest" model by partially
accepting the "infiltration" model of Albrecht Alt, generally rejecting more
recent models (e.g., those of George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald) that
see the "Israelites" as indigenous to Canaan. See discussion of models in,
e.g., Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
(Princeton U. Press, Princeton 1992) 263-269; Shanks in id. (ed.) The Rise
of Ancient Israel (BAS, Washington 1992) 5-14; Soggin, Introduction 140-163;
Ahlstr�m, History 342-350; Kuhrt, Ancient NE 424-437; Marcus, V.f.Nebo

52 Hunt and King oddly leave a gap of eight or nine years between David and
Solomon; Kagan does not mention Saul at all.

53 1 Sam. 13.1, where Saul's reign-length would appear, is corrupt in the
traditional Hebrew text (which says he became king at age 1 and ruled for 2
years) and missing in the Greek Septuagint; Acts 13.21 attributes 40 years
to Saul's reign, but no one accepts this. David is said to have ruled for 40
years at 2 Sam. 5.4-5 and 1 Chr. 29.27 (all such years^�including 7, or
71/2, in Hebron, before 33 in Jerusalem^�seemingly put by context after the
death of Saul, thus not overlapping); 1 Kgs. 11.42 and 2 Chr. 9.30 attribute
40 years also to Solomon.

54 In fact, of course, the temple built by Herod the Great (37-4 BCE) was
immensely more elaborate and impressive than any that preceded it.

55 Cf. denial of the likelihood of such a marriage by Garbini, History &
Ideology 27-29, whose critique is cited favorably by Soggin, Introduction
80-81. Miller and Hayes, History 195 also deny the marriage's likelihood.

56 Sic! Only Solomon's heir Rehoboam is mentioned in Biblical descriptions
of events at this time.

57 Hunt 52a says the Assyrian king involved was Tiglath-pileser III (died

58 Hollister 34 box calls the prophet Isaiah himself the author of the prose
narrative passages in Isa. 36-37 on Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem, which
are in fact simply lifted almost verbatim from 2 Kgs. 18-19 (the borrowing
continues through Isa. 38-39, which reprises 2 Kgs. 20).

59 Smith in St.C.of Yahweh 66; see also Miller and Hayes, History 394;
Coote, Power, Politics 61 ("penned on Josiah's orders&quotEye-wink; Garbini, History &
Ideology 63 and Soggin, Introduction 258 (both of whom refer to scholars'
suspicions of "pious fraud&quotEye-wink; Ahlstr�m, History 777 (mentioning both
contemporary fraud and later creation of the whole story as possibilities).

60 Miller and Hayes, History 419-420 chart the different biblical exile
figures (including those of the confused version of 2 Chr. 36.6, 10, 18,
20), then offer a rather feeble attempt at harmonizing them.

61 HWorldS (see n. 76 below) 41b reduces "some forty thousand exiles" here
to "some 4,600," i.e., adopts the calculations of Jer. 52.28-30.

62 HWorldS 45b eliminates this egregious error, describing the Talmud as
having been "composed during the period between the Roman destruction of the
second temple in A.D. 70 and the Arab conquest of 636."

63 The province is variously mislabeled in the textbooks as "the kingdom of
Judah," "their kingdom," and "a small client state".

64 Some say 539 and some say 538, some mention Cyrus' edict specifically and
others refer only to Persian permission, but none of them contradicts the
essentials of the biblical story in 2 Chr. 36.22-23, repeated with
elaborations in Ezra 1.1-4 (the edict is referred to again in Ezra 5.13 and

65 Ezra 6.15 provides dates; 5.1 and 6.14 refer to the prophets Haggai and
Zechariah, who strongly urged the completion of the project; the internal
dating of their books matches the dating in Ezra. Kagan, in two different
chronological charts (pp. xxxiii and 29), dates both the restoration of the
temple and the return of the exiles (in that order) to 539.

66 Cf. Thompson, Mythic Past 184: "The failure of historians to address the
continued existence of Samaria after the Assyrian takeover is due to their
use of the Bible as if it were Palestine's primary history." Marcus,
V.f.Nebo 154-178 (Chapter 6: "Babylonian Exile: The Ones Who Stayed Home&quotEye-wink
describes recent archaeological work showing ongoing life in not-depopulated
Judah during the Babylonian period. Lemche, JHS 3.1 (2000) 12 n. 27 provides
important 1995-and-later bibliography on this topic.

67 Marcus, V.f.Nebo 220-232 discusses many Ezra/Nehemiah issues.

68 This statement manifestly could not have been made about earlier editions
of this text. I was myself extremely gratified to see how open Spielvogel
had been to my own suggestions for improving the ancient part (chapters 1-6)
of his ed.3, an openness manifested in his very extensive rewriting of the
sections in chapter 2 on Israel.

69 Some revisionists question the "House of David" reading; see three
successive articles (by Lemche and Thompson, Davies, and Ehud Ben-Zvi) on
this controversy in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 64 (1994)
3-32, and also the summaries in Whitelam, Invention 166-168 and especially
Lemche, Israelites in H&T 38-43. See also Thompson, Mythic Past 203-205;
Marcus, V.f.Nebo 145, 148, 151-153.

70 This is not to say that the bibliographies of all the texts are entirely
out of date. Kishlansky adds the 1997 reprint of Roland de Vaux, Ancient
Israel (although without mentioning that it is in fact a work of 1962, by an
author who died in 1971). Hollister uniquely lists Michael Coogan (ed.), The
Oxford History of the Biblical World (1998) and Jack Miles, God: A Biography
(1995). King's recommended readings includes the 1997 reprint of Frank Moore
Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (originally published 1973);
Cannistraro lists both Finkelstein, Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement
and Mark S. Smith, Early History of God; Hause lists Lemche's Ancient
Israel; Hause and Noble list Shanks' Ancient Israel and Hollister lists Van
Seters' pioneering effort, Abraham in History and Tradition (1975).

71 Although he is hardly a minimalist, Baruch Halpern nevertheless provides
a very thought-provoking reappraisal of the biblical prophets' social
pronouncements, seeing the prophets as essentially agents of a totalitarian
state agenda. See his chapter in J.S. Cooper and G.M. Schwartz (eds.), The
Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-First Century (Eisenbrauns,
Winona Lake, IN 1996) 291-338, esp. 331-332.

72 Levenson, HB, OT, & Histl.Crit. 151-155 is unusual in showing this with
striking honesty and plainspokenness. Hollister 32b admits this in a
preexilic context: "The prophetic vision of justice and righteousness did
not extend to humanity at large, but as yet encompassed only the Hebrew
community". Spielvogel says that the prophets "cried out against social
injustice" and that their "proclamations...became a source for Western
ideals of social justice," but he concedes: "Although the prophets
ultimately developed a sense of universalism, the demands of the Jewish
religion...eventually encouraged a separation between the Jews and their
non-Jewish neighbors" (38a; similar view summarized at 37b).

73 Alexander Stille, "The Betrayal of History," NYRB 45.10 (June 11, 1998)
15-16, 18-20.

74 This text has a different title from The Challenge of the West (D.C.
Heath 1995) by the same authors. Although many passages appear unchanged or
only slightly changed, the reorganization^�to judge from the sections on
ancient Israel^�is often drastic, the sequence of topics greatly altered. I
am grateful to my departmental colleague Bonnie Smith for making a copy of
the new textbook available to me early enough to include it in my
discussion, updating my original references to its 1995 predecessor.

75 Copyright 2001, but actually published in 2000 in time for fall-semester

76 The copyright date on my copy says "1999," but the Library of Congress
Catalog Card Number begins with "98," and my Fall 1998 class definitely used
more than 150 copies of it, purchased in early September at the local
bookstore. Improvements are made in certain Israel-related passages of the
more inclusive version of this text, A History of World Societies, ed.5, by
the same authors plus Patricia Buckley Ebrey (2000). These are credited
where appropriate above, citing this text (single-volume edition) as
HWorldS. Presumably the new language will be employed in ed.7 of A History
of Western Society when it appears.