The View from Nebo: How Archeology is Rewriting the Bible and Reshaping the Middle East

Amy Dockser Marcus, Author Little Brown and Company $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-56167-9
Were the ancient Jews unique in forbidding the eating of pork or was the prohibition more widespread in the region? Did King David really exist, or is he a mythical figure, a composite of several actual ancient leaders? Marcus, a Wall Street Journal contributor formerly reporting from the Middle East, describes the cutting-edge archeological research that is posing such questions. Yet, despite its intriguing subtitle, this book never convincingly demonstrates that archeology is, in fact, ""reshaping the Middle East"" or rewriting the Bible. Instead, Marcus provides something more modest: an engaging overview of the theories circulating in alternative contemporary biblical scholarship, on subjects such as Abraham, the Ammonites, the Exodus. Disappointingly, she fails to provide an adequate amount of political, historical or historiographical context in which to evaluate these new theories, and she never explains exactly how the new ideas fit into the overall state of contemporary biblical scholarship. Still, drawing from an extensive set of interviews she conducted with archeologists and others on the forefront of biblical scholarship, Marcus provides readers with a lovely window onto a little-known set of ideas. Some of this work may come to contradict, or even counteract, some of the basic political ideas of the modern state of Israel, but it seems clear that politicians, particularly in the Israeli context, will only utilize biblical scholarship if it fits their agenda--so it is unlikely that archeology alone will ever be able to ""reshape the Middle East."" (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-316-59162-1
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