BETWEEN THE BIBLICAL STORY AND HISTORY: Writing an Archaeological History of Ancient Israel

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Until about 25 years ago, the history of ancient Israel was largely based on a critical reading of the biblical narrative. Although parts of the narrative were agreed to be non-historical, and some were disputed, the major components of the story-from the tribal social organization of the period of the Judges onward-were seen as mostly historical. The minimalists challenge of the 1990s and the subsequent debates had a major impact on the discipline, and altered the discourse, leading to the separation of the literary, biblical Israel, from the historical Israel. At the heart of this development is the relationship between the biblical text and archaeological record, and in particular, the degree of historicity contained in the former and the way in which the latter mirrors specific sociocultural realities. The present chapter provides a synthesis of this debate, outlines the development of scholarship, how the distinction between “biblical Israel” and “historical Israel” came into being, and the growing role of archaeology in reconstructing Israel’s history. The chapter then discusses the historicity or non-historicity of specific biblical “histories” and offers outlines to this history. Finally, the chapter offers new directions for biblical archaeology, and new ways to integrate texts and artifacts in reconstructing the history of ancient Israel in its broadest sense.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Ancient Israelite World
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000773248
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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