Thursday, 22 April 2010

israel finkelstein, israeli archaeologist, speaks his mind


an interview with israel finkelstein, well-known israeli archaeologist. in case you thought he was a biblical minimalist or maximalist, read what he has to say himself:
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The Devil Is Not So Black as He Is Painted
BAR interviews Israel Finkelstein
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Israel Finkelstein is professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University and has codirected the excavations at Megiddo since 1994. Recently, he was the recipient of an award that provides a fund in excess of $4 million for a scientific study of the history of ancient Israel. Editor Hershel Shanks and Professor Finkelstein discuss, among other things, whether or not there was an Exodus from Egypt.
Hershel Shanks: Israel, I know that you are not a Biblical minimalist, and you’re not a Biblical maximalist either. You regard yourself as a centrist. But many people refer to you as a Biblical minimalist. How do you account for that?
Israel Finkelstein: To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I believe that I’m indeed in the center. I never take a sweeping view on Biblical history. You’ll never catch me saying, “Everything is not historical” or “Everything is historical.” For me, there’s never a black-and-white situation.
Most of us agree that the actual compilation [of the Biblical text] is relatively late. So the question is whether everything earlier is not historical and everything from the time of the writing of the text is historical. My answer is no. There are indications that earlier material contains germs of historical memories from the formative days of early Israel. On the other hand, when the text is soaked with ideology and with the theology of the later writers, even for events close to the time of the writing, not everything is completely historical.
Why people don’t understand this is beyond me. Not only do they tend to stick labels on what I am doing—you know, the minimalists say that I am a maximalist and the maximalists say that I am minimalist. They also stick [modern] political labels on what I am doing. This is absolutely incorrect to do.
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for the rest of the article, read here:

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