In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City

Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, and Michael G. Hasel. Thames & Hudson, $34.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-500-05201-3
Was there a historical basis for the Bible’s account of the life of King David? Garfinkel (Dance at the Dawn of Agriculture), head of Hebrew University’s archaeology institute, and his colleagues Ganor and Hassel insist that there was, pointing to their discoveries while excavating the city of Khirbet Qeiyafa in Israel’s Elah Valley. While this volume accessibly details what was found, it is unlikely to sway many skeptics: the authors conclude that their finds, which include olive pits used for radiometric dating of the site and other artifacts (such as stone and pottery vessels—one boasting a rare inscription—and Egyptian scarabs) dating back to when David supposedly lived, have “provided archaeological evidence corroborating historical memories from the time of King David.” The parts of the book that are not detailing the archaeological findings summarize the sometimes-conflicting biblical tradition regarding David’s life and past archaeological study of the region; much space is devoted to condemning biblical minimalism (the view that the Bible is not a legitimate source of historical information) in ways that even open-minded readers are unlikely to find persuasive, for example, calling scholars’ questioning of the historicity of biblical writings about David “surprising” given his “centrality... in the biblical story.” A less biased and more cautious approach to the authors’ unquestionably remarkable finds would have served lay readers better. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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