BAR 36:03, May/Jun 2010
$4 Million for “Reconstructing Ancient Israel”
With a grant of more than $4 million, the project described at the end of Israel Finkelstein’s interview will be a unique scientific effort to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel. Never before has a project of this complexity been undertaken with such substantial funding and such an array of scientific researchers.
The grant proposal notes that we have “very few real-time historical records” relating to the history of ancient Israel. Moreover, the proposal notes, “the biblical testimony [was] written a long time after the events described (if not mythical) took place.” The proposal also recognizes “the strong theological agenda of both the original authors [of the Biblical text] and many modern scholars.”
While Biblical archaeology has “provided critical evidence for the material culture of Ancient Israel ... until recently it has been dominated by a conservative interpretation of the biblical text and was not given a true independent role in constructing Ancient Israel’s history,” the grant proposal explains.