Ziony Zevit, «Three Debates about Bible and Archaeology», Vol. 83 (2002) 1-27
Three significant debates affecting perceptions of Israelite history, the Bible’s historiography, the relationship between this historiography and archaeology, and the dating of parts of the Bible’s literature have occupied Biblicists and archaeologists for the last 25 years. This article distinguishes the debates by analyzing the issues involved, the terminologies employed, as well as the professions of the protagonists engaged in each. It considers each within its own intellectual context. In light of these analyses, the article proposes a positive assessment of the contribution of these debates to the study ancient Israel’s history.
society in general and the emergence of ancient Israel from Canaanite groups resident in the central hill country in particular21; (3) evaluations of archaeological data that since the 1950’s question, qualify or deny the historicity of the exodus and conquest narratives and that since the 1970’s-80’s deny that of the patriarchal traditions22; (4) a strategy for reading Biblical historical narrative against the grain similar to the Deconstruction strategies developed by J. Derrida emulated widely in departments of literature and history during the 1970’s and 1980’s; (5) the climate of extreme skepticism, a skepticism sometimes bordering on cynicism characteristic of much Western historical analysis since the late 1960’s23.
Although minimalist claims are derived through reasoning processes practiced by contemporary historians, they shocked Biblical scholarship by their boldness and in their assignment of Biblical