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Understanding the History of Ancient Israel$
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H. G. M. Williamson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264010

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264010.001.0001

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Biblical Israel in the Ninth Century?

Biblical Israel in the Ninth Century?

(p.49) 4 Biblical Israel in the Ninth Century?
Understanding the History of Ancient Israel


British Academy

Most archaeologists of ancient Israel still operate with a pro-biblical ideology, while the role that archaeology has played in Zionist nation building is extensively documented. Terms such as ‘ninth century’ and ‘Iron Age’ represent an improvement on ‘United Monarchy’ and ‘Divided Monarchy’, but these latter terms remain implanted mentally as part of a larger portrait that may be called ‘biblical Israel’. This chapter argues that the question of ‘biblical Israel’ must be regarded as distinct from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as a major historical problem rather than a given datum. ‘Biblical Israel’ can never be the subject of a modern critical history, but is rather a crucial part of that history, a ‘memory’, no doubt historically conditioned, that became crucial in creating Judaism. This realization will enable us not only to write a decent critical history of Iron Age central Palestine but also to bring that history and the biblical narrative into the kind of critical engagement that will lead to a better understanding of the Bible itself.

Keywords:   Iron Age, ninth century, ancient Israel, history, Palestine, Bible, archaeology, biblical Israel, Judah, Judaism

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