I just got finished reading Unveiling the Kings of Israel by David Down. I have been immersed in Bible stories from the time I was a little girl, so my tendency is to view them as completely true, yet separate from the rest of world history. I think of, for instance, Abraham and how God called him to leave his home and his family to go to a land that God would show him, and how this was special, yes, but also somehow normal. I've never really thought about how Abraham (then Abram) came from an established city and how he had a roll in the goings on of that city. I never pictured him surrounded by family and acquaintances who were worshiping crazy things and how this call from God would have probably been quite scary. I never thought about how, in the midst of all of this, Abraham had to be confident that he was hearing from the one true God or that he most likely had to deal with ridicule from the people around him when he left a thriving city to essentially become a wanderer.
This book honestly put the Old Testament into a whole new light for me. It helped me place the events of the Bible into real life surroundings and took the Bible out of it's own, isolated narrative. Unveiling the Kings of Israel basically goes through the history of the Old Testament chronologically (plus a final chapter on the life of Christ) and inserts archeological findings where they fit into the time and place of the events. David Down sheds light on what the people and places were like in the particular time of the event. In the first chapter he talks about fossils and how they can be explained Biblically when non-Christian scientists believe that they prove billions of years old life forms.
I, by no means, believe that the Bible must be proven archeologically in order for it to be true, but it's nice to see what has been discovered and how it supports the Biblical account. I like how Mr. Down does not try to force any of archeology's findings to be proof of Biblical accounts. For example, he talks about how the city of Gath (where the Bible says that Goliath was from) had not been archeologically identified until 2004, and when they found the city they unearthed something that had the name Goliath scratched on it. He doesn't try to claim that this is proof of the exact Goliath from the Bible, but just uses this as proof that Goliath was a name that was indeed used in that city during that time.
A big part of Mr. Down's argument that the history told in Bible is true and reliable is based on what he calls a 'reduced' chronology. As someone who has never studied matters like this before, I would have appreciated more of an explanation of what this meant and even some time lines comparing this reduced chronology to the conventional chronology. He talks often about the different periods of time like the Late Bronze Period and the Iron Age II. Maybe I just didn't pay enough attention during my history classes in school, but I could have used some charts or at least a basic overview of these terms at the beginning of the book to help me more greatly benefit from his arguments within the book. This does not take anything away from how interesting and beneficial this books is, but I do think that it could have added some value and general helpfulness to it!
I love that the book is heavily littered with Scripture, and often he just recounts Biblical stories to get us from one point in history to the next. This is very helpful for understanding how everything flows together and not slipping back into thinking of these stories as unrelated events.
Once last thing to mention is the great bonus appendix about the Dead Sea Scrolls. I had never heard the story of how they were found and how they figured out they were of importance or what they found after they read them and compared them to our modern Bible translations. It was a very interesting read and I'm so glad that Mr. Down included it!
I think this book would be of great benefit to any Christian, especially homeschooling families. It would probably be of most help to high school aged students (and adults of course!), but it also would be a great resource to use to help younger children understand the context of a particular passage of scripture you are reading and to show them pictures of what different places and items look like. I read this book straight through, which you can do too, but I would recommend that you read just the section that pertains to what you are currently studying. If this sounds interesting to you at all, I highly recommend that you check out Unveiling the Kings of Israelfor yourself. Enjoy!
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I was given this book to review from New Leaf Publishing Group, but was not required to give a positive review.
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