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Patriarchal Palestine by Archibald Henry Sayce
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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_. There I have written
purely as an archaeologist, who belongs to no theological school, and
consequently readers of the work must see in it merely the irreducible
minimum of confidence in the historical trustworthiness of the Old
Testament, with which oriental archaeology can be satisfied. But it is
obvious that this irreducible minimum is a good deal less than what a
fair-minded historian will admit. The archaeological facts support the
traditional rather than the so-called "critical" view of the age and
authority of the Pentateuch, and tend to show that we have in it not
only a historical monument whose statements can be trusted, but also
what is substantially a work of the great Hebrew legislator himself.
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