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The Old Testament remains at the heart of many contemporary concerns. The heated battles over abortion, homosexuality (now threatening to tear apart the Anglican Church), and the right-to-live (as in the case of Terri Schiavo in the States) all testify to its continuing influence. Millions still believe every word and story in it is literally true.
But can they be true? Prof. Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University and Neil Silberman of the Ename Centre of Public Archaeology in Belgium have brought together the findings of modern science and archaeology in their book 'The Bible Unearthed' to try and cast light on this question. In general, they make the following case:
The scientific position is clear. There is no evidence of any kind for the existence of Abraham (supposedly the Israelites' founding patriarch), Moses, or Solomon. At the time of the Exodus, Canaan -- the Promised Land to which the Israelites were fleeing -- was ruled and firmly controlled by the very Egypt from which they were trying to escape.