History in the Bible Podcast

Welcome to The History in the Bible Podcast

The Revolution in Biblical Studies

Hi. I'm Dr Garry, aka Garry Stevens. Welcome to my podcast, the History in the Bible.

In this podcast I present a layman's guide to the latest research into the Biblical texts and the archaeological evidence behind them. I also explore the religion of ancient Israel, and the development of Christianity. The revolution comes in two parts:

Revolution in Old Testament Studies

Until the 1970s, archaeologists of Israel and Palestine saw their job as demonstrating the historical validity of the Bible. A new band of archaeologists and scholars has overturned that notion. The Bible is no longer seen as a document whose words must be proven, but as a starting point in providing a new and reliable history of the Jews, and the development of Judaism.

Their conclusions are radical: that the Israelites are Canaanites who forged a new identity, that there was no Exodus, that King David was not much more than a bandit, that the empire of Solomon never existed, and that the God of Israel may have had a wife, Asherah. All this, the new wave say, was whitewashed by the authors of the Old Testament (Tanakh), who only put pen to paper centuries after the events they wrote about.

Teaching the Controversy

As you can imagine, the work of the new wave of scholars has been immensely controversial. Let me make one thing clear: the new wave are not complete crazies. They hold eminent positions in prestigious universities. Many are Jewish. But, as Philip Davies explains, their work is fraught with political implications:

Debate about ancient Israel is also debate about modern Israel, and in the eyes of many people, the legitimacy of the latter depends on the credibility of the biblical portrait. Still, what is worrying to many Israelis and Jews about the “ancient Israel” debate is that biblical studies, having for so long been a natural advocate of the land always being “the land of Israel”, is now (and I think rightly) bringing the notion under critical scrutiny that Israel was the natural or rightful owner of this piece of land.

What is important is not to politicize biblical studies but to de-politicize it, to distance it from any political stance…. Israel is part of the history, as well as the present, of Palestine. I think the Bible should not interfere in this way with modern politics. … But this does not entail being anti-Jewish…. The State of Israel was the result of things more tangible and imperative than divine promises and ancient occupations.

Revolution in New Testament Studies

A quite separate and distinct re-evaluation of the New Testmant has been bubbling along since the late 1700's. The archaeologists have little do with this. This battle has been conducted on a literary level, between people sitting in comfy chairs; not trench-workers in the desert heat digging in the dusty earth for weeks at a time.

About the Podcast

In the History in the Bible Podcast I take you inside this revolution in Biblical studies in a series of fortnightly podcasts. Each episode is a chunk just right for your morning or afternoon commute.

Series 1: From Genesis to Babylon

In the first series, I covered the history and archaeology of the Old Testament (Tanakh); from the Patriarchs and the origins of the Hebrews; then the Exodus, and the conquest of Canaan; through David and Solomon, to the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their prophets. I show how scholars think that the various threads of the books we now know as the Bible came together, and what the latest archaeological discoveries and controversies can tell us about this long history. The first series ends at the beginning of the Exile.

Series 2: From Babylon to Revelation

In the second series, I discuss the Babylonian exile, the return, and the subsequent history of the Jews from the Persian period through the Hasmonean kingdom, to conclude with Judea as a Roman province. I also cover the vast literature that was produced after the Babylonian Exile, sometimes called the pseudepigrahical works. None of these works made it into either the Old or New Testaments but they influenced both of the daughter religions of the ancient Israelite faith: rabinnical Judaism, and Christianity.

After that is done, I launch into the history chronicled in all the versions of the New Testament. I get my teeth stuck into the gospels, the letters, Acts, and Revelation; showing what modern scholarship has to say about their complex history and interelationships. I also cover the books that only the Ethiopian Orthodox church includes as canonical.

Series two will reach the New Testament and the earliest history of Christianity around April 2018, with episode 21 of series two. But believe me, it will be worth the wait. I've spent years scouring the scholarly literature, to bring you what I think is a well-rounded portrait of the state of modern scholarship on Jesus, the gospels, the disciples, Paul, and all the books in the New Testament. Am I biased? Absolutely! But, hey, it's my podcast!

Living Bibliography

Online English translations of the Bible

The premier site for Biblical translation into English is the brilliant site Bible Gateway. This astonishing resource provides English translations from so many bibles your head will spin. It is without doubt the world's greatest resource for this material. And all for free.

Written English translations of the Bible

I rely on these scholarly and authoritative translations into English:

English translations of other primary sources


Books for the Interested Reader

More Academic Books

Fun Books

Crazy Books


Unfortunately, most of these journals are behind paywalls, and part of the international academic publishing rort


Big Charts

Why not download my free poster-sized chart of Old Testament history, and then my poster on Early Christianity? Or take a look at the various maps and tables I am posting in support of the podcast.

Podcasts Worth Visiting

Check out these podcasts.

Academic Podcasts

Fun Podcasts


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