Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I mentioned a while back that one of the problems with historical Jesus studies was that it was being done by theologians and not by historians. There seems to be a related problem with people examining the historicity of the Old Testament. Here the split is between archaeologists and literary critics. Actually, this is not entirely fair as this article in Biblica by Ziony Zevit shows that the biblical minimalists (who claim the entire OT is fictional and was all written in the Hellenistic period) are a tiny minority. But they do get undue attention as what they say is iconoclastic and winds up mainstream scholars no end. However, as Zevit shows, the minimalists are simply using some of the wilder ideas of post structuralist literary criticism on the bible and seeing what comes out. Unsurprisingly it is the same thing that comes out of all radical post structuralist enquires: that the text is a product of whatever political interests the enquirer started out thinking it was. For this reason I can't say that I am going to devote much attention to biblical minimalism for a little while yet.

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