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.
‘ancient Israel’, as defined by minimalists, owes its discovery to the research of scholars, but not that these modern scholars have composed a theological fiction.
Recently, Lemche felt constrained to defend minimalism and (specific) minimalist scholars against two sets of charges: the first, that its general claims and specific interpretations of data are driven by ideological — Marxist, anti-Christian establishment, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic — positions; the second, that many of its strongest claims involving ancient Near Eastern languages and cultures, sociological and archaeological data are advanced by underqualified individuals. Lemche, allowing that some minimalist scholars do have their own private programs, argued that the term ‘ideological’ in the published accusations is vague, but that no matter how the term is used, there is nothing ‘ideological’ about concluding that the Persian period is the single period that best explains the ‘mental matrix’ for most Old Testament literature and ‘probably all of its historiography’28. I consider this a valid rebuttal29.
Regarding qualifications. Although he presented his own