The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The David Myth

I find it both interesting and disturbing that so many biblical scholars disbelieve most of what's in the Bible. The so-called "David Myth" is a good example of what I mean. According to many scholars, King David, who, along with Abraham and Moses (two other mythical figures), can only be described as a central figure in the Old Testament, simply did not exist. He was instead the fictional creation of priests and political leaders who needed to provide the people with a heroic figure who epitomized the mythological former glory of this primitive tribal people. David, the youthful shepherd who became a giant killer, a great strategist and general, and a king respected by all the nations, is simply too good to be true. Too great to have been created by God, he must have been created by man. As I said, this really disturbs me.

The documentary evidence for David's existence is, of course, substantial. It's called the Bible. If we substituted David's name with the name of some obscure ancient Middle Eastern king, and then discovered these writings in a desert cave, there would be rejoicing among the archaeologists and textual scholars that we now knew so much about this previously little known potentate. But for some reason, the Bible is generally discounted as an historical document. After all, it's filled with all those odd theophanies, all those concocted and impossible manifestations of this minor tribal god. How can anyone believe anything in documents littered with such obviously tall tales? And what really bothers these scholars is that, even in these enlightened times, so many people -- believing Jews and Christians -- still accept all of it.
Aerial view of excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa

In recent years, however, there's been a constant stream of archaeological evidence pouring out of the Holy Land in support of the Bible as real history, and this includes the story of David and his kingdom. The latest evidence comes from the excavation of a fortified Iron Age city at Khirbet Qeiyafa that dates from the time of David. The archaeological evidence points to its being a Jewish city in the Kingdom of Judah. All of this evidence argues that the Jews of the 11th century B.C. lived in urban settings, something that supporters of the "David Myth" have disputed, believing instead that urbanization didn't occur until centuries later. And so it appears that this primitive tribe of nomadic shepherds might actually have been more sophisticated and advanced than previously thought. In other words, they were pretty much just as they are described in the Bible.

To read a brief overview of the report of this excavation, click here: The Sacred Page.

To read a more detailed report, click here: Israel Antiquities Authority.

And if you're really interested in this general subject of the historical accuracy of Scared Scripture, let me suggest reading K. A. Kitchen's fascinating book, On the Reliability of the Old Testament.

In the meantime, read your Bible every day, and believe what you read.


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