ABR and the Search for Ai -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 12:1 (Winter 1999)
Article: ABR and the Search for Ai
Author: Gary A. Byers

ABR and the Search for Ai

Gary A. Byers

This evidence [at et-Tell] shows that the narrative in Joshua is not to be taken literally, but is an example of the process by which all the Israelite conquests of several centuries were referred to the time of Joshua” (Cohen 1962: 72, emphasis added).

“Since the writer has scoured the district in question in all directions, hunting for ancient sites, he can attest the fact that there is no other possible candidate for Ai than et-Tell” (Albright 1963: 29, emphasis added).

ʿAi is simply an embarrassment to every view of the conquest that takes the biblical and archaeological evidence seriously (Callaway 1968:312, emphasis added).

“...archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8 “(Callaway 1985: 68, emphasis added).

“The Joint Expedition to Ai worked nine seasons between 1964 and 1976 and spent nearly $200,000, only to eliminate the historical underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible” (Callaway 1985: 68, emphasis added).

“In short, the evidence shows that there was no city at Ai [i.e., et-Tell]for the Israelites to conquer “(Zevit 1985: 58, emphasis added).

“Years of excavation and tens of thousands of dollars spent on research have systematically eliminated historical reconstructions of the conquest of Ai that various scholars tried to relate to the biblical account in Joshua 7-8 (Callaway 1987: 92, emphasis added).

“This lack of any Late Bronze Canaanite city at the site [of et-Tell] or in the vicinity contradicts the narrative in Joshua 8 and shows that it was not based on historical reality despite its topographical and tactical plausibility” (Mazar 1990: 331, emphasis added).

“There is no evidence of a second-millennium Canaanite city at this spot [i.e., et-Tell] or at any other site in the region. This constitutes unequivocal archaeological evidence for the lack of correlation between the story in Joshua 8, with all its topographic details, and a historical reality corresponding to the period of the conquest. (Mazar 1992: 283, emphasis added).

“...the narratives of the capture of Jericho and Ai and the conquest of the six cities of the Shephelah and the hill country of Judah are devoid of historical reality” (Naʿaman 1994: 280, emphasis added).

These quotations convey the consensus of archaeological insight on the ancient city of Ai today. The argument can be...

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