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What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel
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What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel


Eerdmans 2002

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


For centuries, the Hebrew Bible has been the fountainhead of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Today, however, the entire biblical tradition, including its historical veracity, is being challenged. Leading this challenge is a group of scholars described as the “minimalist” or “revisionist” school of biblical studies, which charges that the Hebrew Bible is largely pious fiction, that its writers and editors invented “ancient Israel” as a piece of late Jewish propaganda in the Hellenistic era. In this fascinating volume, noted Syro-Palestinian archaeologist William Dever attacks the minimalist position head-on, showing how modern archaeology brilliantly illuminates both life in ancient Palestine and the sacred Scriptures as we have them today. Assembling a wealth of archaeological evidence, Dever builds the clearest, most complete picture yet of the real Israel that existed during the Iron Age of ancient Palestine (1200–600 BC).

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Interested in ancient Israel? Be sure to check out the Eerdmans Israelite Studies Collection.

Key Features

  • Attacks the minimalist position head-on
  • Assembles a wealth of archaeological evidence
  • Builds a clear and complete picture of the real Israel


  • The Bible as History, Literature, and Theology
  • The Current School of Revisionists and Their Nonhistories of Ancient Israel
  • What Archaeology Is and What It Can Contribute to Biblical Studies
  • Getting at the “History behind the History”: What Convergences between Texts and Artifacts Tell Us about Israelite Origins and the Rise of the State
  • Daily Life in Israel in the Time of the Divided Monarchy
  • What Is Left of the History of Ancient Israel, and Why Should It Matter to Anyone Anymore?

Praise for the Print Edition

Dever is one of the very best archaeologists of the Near East, and everything he writes needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness. . . . Required reading.

—David Noel Freedman, former Endowed Chair in Hebrew Biblical Studies, University of California, San Diego

Dever provides a judicious analysis of archaeological data and shows how it squares with what much of the biblical text tells us. . . . Highly polemical (and for good reason), this book attempts to correct various recent assertions based more on feelings for the modern Israeli-Palestinian question than on any concern for honest history. . . . Dever’s accessible book offers a sound critical examination of Israel’s origins. An advisable purchase for all academic and most public libraries.

Library Journal

A helpful introduction to the world of Syro-Palestinian archaeology and its possible interaction with biblical studies.

Publishers Weekly

Meticulously detailed . . . very illuminating, well-informed and surprisingly balanced.

The Jerusalem Report

Product Details

  • Title: What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel
  • Author: William G. Dever
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 327
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Ancient Near East

About the Author

William G. Dever is professor emeritus of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has served as director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, as director of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, and as visiting professor at universities around the world. He has spent 30 years conducting archaeological excavations in the Near East, resulting in a large body of award-winning fieldwork.