The ASOR (American Schools of Oriental Research) blog by archaeologist Steven Collins entitled, “Has Archaeology Gone Overboard in Throwing Out the Bible?” It’s an interesting take on the tense and terse relationship between biblical maximalists and minimalists. For those unacquainted with the terminology, see here for an older post of mine (and its links). The article presents a more optimistic view than offered by minimalism while avoiding extreme maximalism.
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I found this a balanced article with a well-reasoned approach for finding common ground. It is not a subject I know a whole lot about, so I was quite surprised to discover that “archaeologists who accept the historicity of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are a rare breed.” Really!? I can’t grasp how one is going to either prove or disprove the existence of individuals who were mostly wanderers and never had a great deal of possessions to speak of. I mean, if they want to say that their disbelief is a matter of conjecture, then that’s fine. But how can they say that they absolutely know these individuals did not exist?
It’s true, for various reasons. Archaeologists tend to only believe in what they dig up.
This is always such a difficult situation. Minimalists will tend to be secular. Maximalists may tend to be more religious. Now what? Ok, so lets look at the data. But the data has to be interpreted. So they are going to be interpreted by either one of them. So how can we ever come up with a conclusion that we feel isn’t impeding on some sort of bias?
True; each will always accuse the other of that. But the minimalists have been saying the other side shouldn’t even be at the table.
The problem between with the two camps is there is no objective evidence that would move someonn from minimalism to max. I mean, what is it we could dig up that would “prove” any of the biblical heros existed? What ever you find can be thought of in so many different ways and viewed through different lenses.