Archaeological data dating patriarchs

According to the biblical scheme of events, there was a United Monarchy for about a hundred years in the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon.

Then a civil war brought about the division of the country into Israel, the northern kingdom, and Judah, the southern kingdom.

Most of us mainstream archeologists also have now dated a series of monumental royal constructions to the 10th century—the famous gates at Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer.

And we have in the Bible, in First Kings -17, the famous description of Solomon's construction of gates of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.

The fact is that archeology can never prove any of the theological suppositions of the Bible. The Bible is didactic literature; it wants to teach, not just to describe.

From the beginnings of what we call biblical archeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archeological data to prove the Bible. [William Foxwell] Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the "archeological revolution." Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought.

The truth of the matter today is that archeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that's very disturbing to some people. I have always thought that if we resurrected someone from the past, one of the biblical writers, they would be amused, because for them it would have made no difference.

William Dever, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, has investigated the archeology of the ancient Near East for more than 30 years and authored almost as many books on the subject.

In the following interview, Dever describes some of the most significant archeological finds related to the Hebrew Bible, including his own hot-button discovery that the Israelites' God was linked to a female goddess called Asherah.

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