posted on Jul, 30 2004 @ 08:00 AM
Here are two books you could start with, but there are a lot more. These two are more for the lay reader, and not so dry and technical to a newcomer
to the material.
Try getting a copy of a book called "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" by Neil
Asher Silberman (Author), Israel Finkelstein (Paperback).
It was written by Ashkenazi Jewish archaelogists who have spent several decades examining the most recent archaelogical findings in Israel and
Occupied Palestine, and have come to the conclusions that most of the "history" of Israel as outlined in the "bible" especially about the Kings
was midrashic (i.e. legendary and completely re-written not earlier than 420 BC, long after the time of the events it purports to relate): in other
words despite all the half-truths and rhetoric out of the mouths of fundamentalist Christians and "orthodox" (whatever that means) "Jews" today,
the Bible is NOT a trustworthy source of history, but midrashic legend carefully designed to prove that the Judaeans were the "chosen people" of
their post Exilic (after 480 BC) clan god YHWH.
Also a good read for the layman would be Richard Elliot Friedmann's book WHO WROTE THE BIBLE? (which to Mr Friedmann means only what Christians would
call the "Old Testament" since he's Jewish) which outlines the poltical influences that caused the "bible" to be written, edited, re-edited and
and finally re-edited (in different periods) in the ways the texts have come down to us.
Most people find that they have to read the book twice or even three times over to fully understand the gist of all the linguistic arguments
presented by Mr Freidmann (who is basically summarizing the work of more than 200 years of intensive sutdy of the Old Testament texts) , since most
non-theologians have absolutely no prior familiarity with the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis (Sources of the Torah for example called J E P and D + a
Redactor during the time of Ezra in 420 BC) and believe that somehow men and poltics played no role in shaping the contents of the "bible"
Moreover most of the information contained in the book is highly distilled and may come as a shock to "bible believing "Christians and Jews who
believe the texts are "the word of God" (i.e. YHWH the god of Israel) , the vast majority of whom cannot even read Hebrew or Aramaic or even LXX
Greek with any degree of fluency
(American Jews for example can barely read their Bar Mitzvah haf-tarah portion without stumbling, unfortunately----and fundamentalist Christians
generarlly don't like their parishoners reading (let alone studying!) copies of older, more original texts families because it is clear that there
are thousands of glaring differences between all the manuscript families, and not just one copy of the Bible-- e.g. of the Old Testament (i.e. all the
scribal differences in "scripture" between the Masoretic Text, the Seputaginta LXX, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Pe#ta, the Targums and the Dead
Sea Scrolls copies, etc. all of which which display a curious freedom and fluency with "holy writ" etc.)
Does this help any?