Patriarchal Palestine by Archibald H. Sayce

Map: The Chief Places mentioned in the Books of Genesis and ExodusProfessor Archibald Sayce’s Patriarchal Palestine applies the (then) recent archaeological discoveries in Babylonia and Assyria to illustrate the biblical accounts of Genesis. The frontispiece map is particularly helpful, so I have extracted this and made is available as a separate download at various resolutions. This title, kindly provided by Book Aid, is in the public domain.

Archibald Henry Sayce [1846-1933], Patriarchal Palestine. London: SPCK, 1895. Hbk. pp.227.[Click to visit the main download page for this title]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • List of Dynasties
  1. The land
  2. The People
  3. The Babylonians in Canaan, and the Egyptian Conquest
  4. The Patriarchs
  5. Egyptian Travellers in Canaan
  6. Canaanitish Culure and Religion
  • Index


A few years ago the subject-matter of the present volume might have been condensed into a few pages. Beyond what we would gather from the Old Testament, we knew but little about the history and geography of Canaan before the age of its conquest by the Israelites. Thanks, however, to the discovery and decipherment of the ancient monuments of Babylonia and Assyria, of Egypt and of Palestine, all this is now changed. A flood of light has been poured upon the earlier history of the country and its inhabitants, and though we are still only at the beginning of our discoveries we can already sketch the outlines of Canaanitish history, and even fill them in here and there.

Throughout I have assumed that in the narrative of the Pentateuch we have history and not fiction. Indeed the archaeologist cannot do otherwise. Monumental research is making it clearer every day that the scepticism of the so-called “higher criticism ” is not justified in fact. Those who would examine the proofs of this must turn to my book on The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments.

Joshua’s Conquest of Jericho and Ai – a Historical Account?

Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho
Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho. Photo source: Wikipedia.

It is often argued that the biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho and Ai is nothing more than historical fiction. So it is very refreshing to come across a cogent argument for its historicity as John M. Monson does in his controbution to Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith, edited by James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary. Monson provides a brief summary of the debate over the archaeology of the area before presenting a plausible explanation which attempts to do justice both to the biblical text and to the available archaeological evidence.

James K. Hoffmeier & Dennis R. Magary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012.

He concludes:

…it is clear that when geographical analysis is added to the study of Israel’s entry into Canaan, and when archaeological data (which remains partial and inconsistent) is prevented from being the final arbiter of all things historical, the most plausible and understandable reconstruction is that the biblical text reflects actual events of the Israelite arrival in Late Bronze Age Canaan. The burden of proof lies with those who would deconstruct these stories or find some alternate explanation for this expansive, geographically focused account. [p.452]

Crossway Books have kindly granted permission for the chapter the chapter to be hosted on this website.

John M. Monson, “Enter Joshua. The “Mother of Current Debates in Biblical Archaeology,” James K. Hoffmeier & Dennis R. Magary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012. Pbk. ISBN: 978-4335-2571-1. pp.427-457. [Click to download the chapter in PDF]

Redating the Exodus and Conquest by John J. Bimson

Both my wife and I remember reading John Bimson’s groundbreaking book Redating the Exodus and Conquest when we were studying theology. So I was delighted when Dr Bimson granted me permission to make his book freely available on-line. I hope that a new generation of Bible students will find it as helpful as we did.

John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest, 2nd edn. Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0907459048. pp.288. Download in PDF.

John J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest

“The Bible points to a date for the Exodus in the 15th Century B.C. and the archaeological evidence, as interpreted by Bimson, corresponds very closely to, the biblical chronology. Dr. Bimson argues forcefully and with great clarity (as well as in considerable detail) for his theory which runs counter to current scholarly opinion.”

– Journal of Jewish Studies

“By advancing a plausible alternative hypothesis, the book demonstrates that those who hold to a thirteenth century exodus-conquest have no monopoly on the archaeological evidence.” – Journal of Biblical Literature

“The author includes a full chapter on Jericho as an index of Conquest chronological data and correctly concludes that its evidence is now ambiguous. Most enlightening is a long chapter on bi<;hrome ware and ceramic chronology in which he asserts convincingly that ceramics shatters the case for a late
Conquest… A fine piece of work.” – Bibliotheca Sacra

“The section on Bichrome Ware should be mandatory reading for anyone dealing in pottery.”  -Orientalia

“Both the problem it addresses and the style it follows make the book of interest to a wider audience. Bimson calls for a reevaluation of the archaeological shift from middle to late Bronze Age in Palestine … In a day when the traditional archaeological support for a thirteenth century unified invasion of Canaan is increasingly under fire, Bimson offers a fresh look at an old and often ignored alternative.” – Christianity Today

Three More Schweich Lectures on-line

The Tribute of Jehu as Represented on the
Black Obelisk, [Driver (1909), facing p.17.]

The following public domain Schweich Lectures are now available on-line in PDF:

S R Driver [1846-1914], Modern Research as illustrating the Bible. The Schweich Lectures 1908. London: Oxford University Press, 1909. Hbk. pp. 95.

George Adam Smith [1856-1942], The Early Poetry of Israel in its Physical and Social Origins. The Schweich Lectures 1910. London: Oxford Unversity Press, 1912. Hbk. pp.102.

David George Hogarth [1862-1927], Kings of the Hittites. The Schweich Lectures 1924. London: Oxford University Press, 1926. Hbk. pp.67.

Click <<HERE>> for the download links.

Works of Flinders Petrie enter the Public Domain

Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie died in 1942, which means that his works published in the UK are now in the Public Domain. To celebrate this occasion the following books can now be downloaded free of charge:

W.M. Flinders Petrie [1853-1942], Egypt and Israel. London: SPCK, 1922. Hbk. pp.150.

W.M. Flinders Petrie [1853-1942], Palestine and Israel. Historical Notes. London: SPCK, 1934. Hbk. pp.99 +16 plates.

For more information about Flinders Petrie, visit his page on the Palestine Exploration Fund website.