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.
do not maintain that every event recorded in the Hebrew Bible occurred. They differ among themselves as to what in Biblical historiography reflects actual events and as to how relevant information from other disciplines bearing on the different periods of Israelite history should be used. They concur, however, that all contemporaneous extra-Biblical sources must be included in discussions of Israelite history, that minimalist super-skepticism is unwarranted, and that its descriptions of Israelite history and historiography are overly general, descriptively inadequate and often incorrect factually.
Most scholars maintain, on the basis of (1) comparative ancient Near Eastern literature and (2) comparative ancient Near Eastern historiography from more than a millennium before the Persian period, from (3) inscriptions found in Israel and in neighboring countries dated to the Iron Ages that relate to specific historical events, some even mentioning people named in the Bible, (4) from the attested evolution of the vocabulary and grammar of the Hebrew language, and (5) from a critical historical comprehension of the Persian period in Yehud, as well as on the basis of (6) archaeological data, that although most of the historical books from Joshua through Kings were written or edited at the latest in the exilic or early pre-exilic period, they do contain earlier and much earlier materials and, consequently, reflect authentic, archaic, Israelite traditions from the late monarchy, c. 922-586 BCE27. This position allows that knowledge of ‘historical Israel’ and