Jul 17, 2017

The Times of Israel on the Shiloh Excavation

From L-R Dr. David Graves, Dr. Phil Silva, Greg Gulbrandsen
Dr. Leen Ritmeyer in front.
This is square AG28 that was part of the 5.5 MB city wall.

Here is the link to the Times of Israel article on our excavation this season at Shiloh. They interviewed some of our folk but did not get much information from the square supervisors. They try and maintain a balanced view by interviewing Israel Finkelstein as well.

Several things stood out for me from the article. Finkelstein stated “I strongly believe that one needs to conduct archaeological research in the best of methods and carry out biblical exegesis in the best of methods. There is no need to start from a perspective of either confirming or dismissing the historicity of a given biblical text,” Finkelstein told The Times of Israel.

The problem with such a statement is there is no neutrality. Everyone has preconceived notions even Finkelstein. Finkelstein outright dismisses the historicity of the biblical text. The Times of Israel describe him as on the forefront of the “radical” evidence-based revision of the history of Israel in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE (versus the biblical narrative), and Finkelstein himself states “The story of the ark is fascinating; but it can teach us mainly about the world of the authors who lived centuries after the destruction of Iron I Shiloh.” As The Time of Israel accurately point out "Finkelstein tends to see the Hebrew Bible as the nationalist mythology of a people attempting to centralize its power and faith." So even Finkelstein does not practice his own methods and begins his archaeology by dismissing the historicity of the text from the start.

Secondly, he states “In a site like this – to differ, e.g., from the desert fringe – one can expect to find built remains. In my own excavation, the only finds from the Late Bronze Age came from a pit which included what seemed to be cultic refuse,” said Finkelstein.

In my square this season we had Late Bronze Age I and II pottery and if I'm not mistaken so did all the other squares. One cannot determine their conclusions from what is not found. He just didn't dig long enough to find it.

Lastly, I want to put is on the record once more that personally I am not trying to prove the Bible. It does not need me to vouch for its authenticity. It does not need proving. What archaeology does is help us to better understand the text and culture of the Bible. One might read the header to my blog one more time to get my meaning.

Finkelstein has just announced that he will now be excavating Kiryat Ye’arim, the other location for the Ark of the Covenant for 20 years prior to being moved to Shiloh. Link

There will be more on the Ark of the Covenant in the years to come from two excavations in Israel, one excavated by those who take the Bible as historically true and one who does not. Stay tuned.

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