Watch “The Bible Unearthed: The Making of a Religion” on YouTube

The Bible is both a religious and historical work, but how much is myth and how much is history? When and why was the Old Testament written, and by whom? What do contemporary archaeologists know about the Patriarchs? The Exodus? The Conquest of Canaan? Kings David and Solomon? Where do the people of Israel originally come from? Why were the historical accounts of the Bible written down, thus establishing the first pillars of a future religion, Judaism?

THE BIBLE UNEARTHED is a four-part series based on the best-selling book The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein (Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University) and Neil Silberman (Director of the Ename Centre for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation).

An archaeological and biblical investigation, the film visits digs in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, including Megiddo, the cradle of biblical archaeology, where 25 strata recording 7,000 years of history have been excavated. This fascinating exploration of biblical history uses archival footage of previous archaeological excavations, maps, biblical illustrations and computer animation, revealing ancient architecture, cuneiform tablets and other rare artifacts.

THE BIBLE UNEARTHED features interviews with archaeological specialists from the Levant (the area in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east) as well as biblical scholars from France, Canada, Switzerland, and the U.S., from the greatest museums, including the Louvre, the Museum of Cairo, the Museum of Jerusalem, and the British Museum.

Episode 1: The Patriarchs

Dawn breaks on the land of Canaan. A land in which, according to the Bible, the Patriarchs lived: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Megiddo and other archeological sites of the Levant, the investigation begins. How has archaeology dealt with the great biblical accounts in the past? What does it tell us today about Abraham, his son, and his grandson? Did they really exist? In what period? Why did the authors of this account as recorded in Genesis tell their tale in this way? The film ends with the destiny of the Bible’s patriarchal figures: offering the people who wrote these texts a family, a genealogy. The first “pillar” of what was to become Judaism.

Episode 2: The Exodus

The archeological and historical investigation continues in Egypt where, according to the Bible, the descendants of Abraham, including Joseph and Moses, once settled. Moses set the Hebrews free from slavery before leading them on an Exodus to the Promised Land. Did this episode of the Old Testament actually happen? When and why was it written? What do we know of the kingdom of Juda and King Josias? What part did Josias play in the writing of the Book of the Covenant and of these Laws which were to become the second “pillar” of Judaism?

Episode 3: The Kings

This episode brings back to life the history of the Israelite nation in Canaan as told in the Bible: Moses entrusted the conquest of Canaan to Joshua. During a lightning war, a confederation of Israelite tribes took possession of Canaan and settled there. The archeological investigation is at variance with this account. This episode then takes a closer look at Kings David and Solomon. What do we actually know about them? And what of the two Israelite kingdoms situated on the territory of Canaan: Israel to the north, rich and powerful, and Juda, to the south, small and poor. What role will the antagonism between these two ‘friendly’ kingdoms play in the writing of the Bible? What is the King of Juda, Josias’s ambition after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel to the north? How does the death of Josias, a descendant of King David, bring about the emergence of the third “pillar” of Judaism: the Messianic idea?

Episode 4: The Book

The investigation now turns to the people who put the biblical texts down on paper. Who were the original Israelites? How did they appear in the region? What part did the sudden emergence in the Levant of the Peoples of the Sea play in the birth of the Israelite nation? What can we find out about what characterized the original Israelites, their customs and beliefs; the reform which led to the writing of the Bible’s fifth Book, Deuteronomy; the place of the writing in the birth, for the first time in these societies, of an authoritative text, the Bible; and the fall of Juda and the Israelites’ Exile in Babylon?

THE BIBLE UNEARTHED shows how the efforts of contemporary archaeologists are helping us to understand the stories of the Bible in their political, geographical, historical and cultural contexts. This four-part series thus does something which has never been done before. It reveals a still-unraveling revolution of what we know of the society, the history, and the men who wrote the Bible.


“This exciting exploration and depiction of biblical geography and geohistorical archaeology is a fascinating work of scholarship and has great value in the understanding of the geography of the Bible.” —Dr. William Dando, Chairperson, Bible Geography Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers

“An honest look at how archaeological evidence is used to replace old theories with new ones about when and why the Bible was written… It takes great skill to convey complex ideas in an exciting way… The archival stills and footage of early archaeologists are excellent and the aerial photography is also quite good.” —Tristan J. Barako, Near Eastern Archaeology

“Provides a sorely needed balance in the meager market of biblical archaeological offerings… demonstrates how scholars attempt to critically relate the findings in the field with the written text. Additionally, the film is helpful in describing the historical world of the writers, if not the actual world of events and of the Bible themselves.” —Laurie Brink, Catholic Library World

“Excellent… A sense of industriousness permeates the film, and even the ‘talking head’ segments are exciting… The photography is first-class… an excellent series.” —Educational Media Reviews Online

“A genuine work of scholarship as well as film art…These 4 episodes are excellent…It is the best done of all its genre that I have yet seen.” —Dr. Jim West, Biblical Studies Resources

Praise for the book The Bible Unearthed
“The boldest and most exhilarating synthesis of the Bible and archaeology in fifty years.”
—Baruch Halpern, Author of The First Historians: The Hebrew Bible and History

Related Links: Background on Scholars Featured in THE BIBLE UNEARTHED

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