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.
disagree. It demonstrates also, beyond cavil, that archaeological data, understood as attesting to dynamic events, contribute to historical understanding even as historical texts contribute to their interpretation.
These by-products of the three debates indicate that the malaise surrounding research into the history of ancient Israel is unwarranted. If the last two debates have not demonstrated to most Biblicists and historians what is correct, they have suggested which ideas have been tested and found wanting; in doing so, they have generated opportunities for experimentation with new ideas and with new methods.