Michael D. Coogan: The Importance of Nonbiblical Evidence

Michael D. Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, third edition (OUP: 2014), 28.

Yet despite undeniable chronological and geographical discontinuities, the literary, religious, and institutional traditions of the Levant, including ancient Israel, are best understood as part of a cultural continuum that, allowing for local particularities, was consistent and pervasive. It is thus impossible to interpret the Bible without taking into account both archaeological remains and ancient nonbiblical texts…. Reading the Bible without reference to all of the data that has been recovered is like reading the text of a play: Nonbiblical evidence, both archaeological and textual, often supplies the setting, the staging, and the costumes, as it were, enabling a much richer understanding and appreciation.

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