The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions

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The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions, edited by James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 2004. 385 pp. $26.00.

The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions is both the title of the volume under review and the topic of a conference held at Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois, between 12 and 14 August 2001. The papers presented at the conference were revised, and in some cases undoubtedly expanded, to appear in the volume at hand. The conference was organized by the North Sinai Archaeological Project and the participants included Richard E. Averbeck ("Ancient Near Eastern Mythography as It Relates to Historiography in the Hebrew Bible: Genesis 3 and the Cosmic Battle"), Thomas W. Davis ("Theory and Method in Biblical Archaeology"), Daniel E. Fleming ("Genesis in History and Tradition: The Syrian Background of Israel's Ancestors, Reprise"), William W. Hallo ("Sumer and the Bible: A Matter of Proportion"), Richard S. Hess ("Multiple-Month Ritual Calendars in the West Semitic World: Emar 446 and Leviticus 23"), James K. Hoffmeier ("The North Sinai Archaeological Project's Excavations at Tell el-Borg [Sinai]: An Example of the 'New' Biblical Archaeology?"), Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. ("Ancient Israel's Literary Heritage Compared with Hittite Textual Data"), David Merling ("The Relationship between Archaeology and the Bible: Expectations and Reality"), Alan Millard ("Amorites and Israelites: Invisible Invaders-Modern Expectation and Ancient Reality"), Cynthia L. Miller ("Methodological Issues in Reconstructing Language Systems from Epigraphic Fragments"), John M. Monson ("The Role of Context and the Promise of Archaeology in Biblical Interpretation from Early Judaism to Post Modernity"), Steven M. Ortiz ("Deconstructing and Reconstructing the United Monarchy: House of David or Tent of David, Current Trends in Iron Age Chronology"), Benjamin Edidin Scolnic ("A New Working Hypothesis for the Identification of Migdol"), Andrew G. Vaughn ("Can We Write a History of Israel Today?"), David B. Weisberg ("'Splendid Truths' or 'Prodigious Commotion'? Ancient Near Eastern Texts and the Study of the Bible"), Edwin Yamauchi ("Homer and Archaeology: Minimalists and Maximalists in Classical Context"), K. Lawson Younger, Jr. ("The Repopulation of Samaria [2 Kings 17:24, 27-31] in Light of Recent Study"), Randall W. Younker ("Integrating Faith, the Bible, and Archaeology: A Review of the 'Andrews University Way' of Doing Archaeology"), and Ziony Zevit ("The Biblical Archaeology versus Syro-Palestinian Archaeology Debate in Its American Institutional and Intellectual Contexts").

Hoffmeier and Millard define "Biblical Archaeology" in the Preface (p. xi): "[I]ts focus is on the times and places, the physical remains and written documents from across the Near East that relate to the biblical text either as background and context or by more direct contact." This is a definition with which William Foxwell Albright, or even Archibald Henry Sayce for that matter, would be comfortable. Lamentably, both of these giants died some great number of years ago, and I know of no single living individual who has mastered such a discipline to the extent that they could competently critique even the impressive range of papers presented in the current volume. …

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