The Invention of Ancient Israel
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As a teen I was born again as the fundamentalists like to call it (vide I get saved). Luckily I reasoned my way out of it.
Erratically for the last few years I've been interested in the history of Christianity. How did a Jewish cult triumph in an theologically tolerant empire and come to poison millions of minds for millennia?
So I've also been interested in early Jewish* history. But I haven't been willing to invest money. When The Invention of Ancient Israel: the Silencing of Palestinian History came in the shop I brought it home. It proved a book for skimming not reading. Keith Whitlam has an axe to grind against the exclusion of non-Jewish people from the history of Palestine. Not that I have an argument with him. I already assume that ancient Hebrew* culture was powerfully influenced by its neighbors. In a sense I am one of the people that he's writing against. My interest in ancient Israel*stems from a desire to know more about Christianity's origin. Unlike many orientalists I'm not seeking to prove that the writings ascribed to prophets and kings are in any sense true.
The book did confirm my suspicions. There's too little surviving material culture to prove that even Solomon and David ever lived nor that Jerusalem was ever the center of a powerful state. The Old Testament has as much evidentiary use as an episode of Doctor Who.
Now to find a fair account of Jewish life in the two centuries preceding the Common Era.
* Questionable words describing people who probably didnít exist back then as we imagine them now.