Prof. Avraham Negev
(Extract, translated from Hebrew)

PRINCIPAL SUBJECTS OF THIS PAGE: Biblical archaeology; Archaeology of Israel; Archaeological dating methods; Parallelism of Bible and archaeology; Responses of archaeologists

The Lost Bible was written by a person who is not an archaeologist nor a professional historian. Yehoshua Etzion dedicated about eight years of his life to study the history of the archaeology in the Land of Israel and its problems, but being self-taught, he did not absorb the entire set of conventions that for us, archaeologists, are like the "God-given commandments", of which we dare not change even a single letter. One of the principle practices that guides researchers who deal with the archaeology of the Land of Israel is the usage of the chronology of nearby resident nations as a basis, especially the Egyptian chronology. The reason for this practice is both the desire to anchor the archaeological finds in the Land of Israel in the surrounding actuality of the world in those days, and even more so because Petri, who is considered to be the founder of scientific archaeology in the Land of Israel, arrived there after many years of scientific work in Egypt. Etzion takes another course, that, indeed, should be the course of every researcher starting a research in a virgin country, as the Land of Israel was at the end of the nineteenth century. According to this course, stratigraphy should be well established first, which is not an easy feat by itself. As a result, the archaeologist establishes a relative chronology, or in other words, [he establishes] the order of earlier and more recent findings in a dig. Up to this point there is no controversy between the traditional archaeologist and Yehoshua Etzion. But whereas the traditional archaeologists try to establish an absolute chronology primarily on the basis of Egyptian chronology, Etzion proposes to base it on local sources, i.e., the Bible, which for traditional archaeologists is a source only of secondary importance and not a primary tool. In contrast to the picture emerging from the work of traditional archaeologists, where, seemingly, the archaeological data and the biblical evidence are incompatible (the Fallen Walls of Jericho and the Conquest of Ai are among the most conspicuous examples for this matter), Etzion offers a comprehensive picture, free of anomalies. As an archaeologist whose field of study is not biblical time, I am not in a position to evaluate Etzion’s proposal in detail, but I am convinced that it should receive serious consideration. It is appropriate that critics of this book would not be contented with a discussion of one event or another; they should relate to the method as a whole, since the author himself did not choose special events, but presented a comprehensive system, that includes the whole archaeology and history of the Land of Israel from its emergence to the end of Second Temple time. Avraham Negev

The Institute of Archaeology

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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