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Friday, October 2, 12-1
We began last week’s discussion a little differently. Before turning to chapters, 6-7 of Finkelstein and Silberman’s The Bible Unearthed, those of us who happened to watch a PBS episode of NOVA ”A to Z: The First Alphabet” shared our reactions to what the program had to say about the contribution of the Israelites/Jews/Hebrews to the development of the alphabet. The program barely mentioned the Hebrew alphabet, something that ruffled the feathers of some of us who had been given to believe that ”the oldest recorded alphabet may be Hebrew”(https://www.foxnews.com/science/hebrew-may-be-worlds-oldest-alphabet). Many of us acknowledged that other alphabets may have preceded the Hebrew alphabet. What was interesting, however, was our reaction to how the NOVA program seemed to assiduously avoid the mention of the word ”Hebrew,” ascribing the early alphabet to the Canaanites. This led to a digression on the phenomenon of ”Confirmation Bias”–the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses (https://www.simplypsychology.org/confirmation-bias.html#:~:text=Confirmation%20bias%20occurs%20when%20people,alternative%20hypotheses%20and%20their%20consequences).
The point of this discussion/digression was to consider the role ”confirmation bias” might be playing in our reading and understanding of the Finkelstein and Silberman text and the authors’ claims that the Bible doesn’t offer an accurate representation of historical reality.
The chapters covered last week focused on the Books of Kings 1 and 2, starting with the authors’ claims that the notion of a vast united monarchy centered in Jerusalem under the leadership of Kings David and Solomon, was something of a myth promulgated by a much later king (Josiah) who wished to expand the territory of a rural, sparsely settled Kingdom of Judah into a more prosperous, densely settled Kingdom of Israel by delegitimizing the northern territories as being sinful centers of cult worship. Rather than being works of history, the Books of Kings were Judahite arguments intended to bolster the power and theology of King Josiah.
When we gather on October 2, our group will take a closer look at chapters 6-8 (pp. 149-225) in The Bible Unearthed, in light of what Finkelstein and Silberman have to tell us about 930-720 BCE and in terms of the authors’ confirmation biases and our own.
Our informal discussion group is held online every Friday from 12-1. All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous noon study group discussions. If you have questions, or would like the Zoom link, please contact Jay Jacoby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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