An investigation into ancient camel bones in Israel caused a good deal of excitement recently.
According to the Israeli archaeologists, the remains suggested that camels were domesticated only much later than the time of the patriarchs according to Jewish tradition. Hence the early Bible stories in which camels appear could not be true.
Among those who seized on the findings were Andrew Brown, editor of The Guardian’s online Belief section, who wrote a blog entitled “The Old Testament's made-up camels are a problem for Zionism”.
The strap continued: “The earliest camel bones have been dated at 1,500 years after Genesis – which undermines Zionists' promised land narrative.”
And Brown went on to write: “The history recounted in the Bible is a huge part of the mythology of modern Zionism. The idea of a promised land is based on narratives that assert with complete confidence stories that never actually happened.”
But does such research disprove the claims of Zionism? It is one thing to argue against biblical literalism, but another simply to treat the Bible as myth ( a kind of Jewish Odyssey or Aeneid).
According to Professor Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who the Wrote the Bible?, the archaeological record already reveals a wealth of evidence pointing to a continuous Israelite civilisation in the Land of Israel.
Here is the conclusion of a blog he wrote on the subject: “ We can (and do) have a million arguments about almost every aspect of the Bible. But what we cannot deny is the existence of the world that produced it. That fact is not true just because the Bible says so. It is true because practically everything says so.
“We don’t all agree on matters relating to the present politics of Israel and its neighbors. That’s OK. It’s even healthy. But let no one repeat this nonsense about Israel not having its historical roots there. One cannot understand the Jews or Israel if one displaces the first 1,000 years of their history.”