Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TRINJ 26:2 (Fall 2005) p. 321
James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard, eds. The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004. xviii + 385 pp. $26.00.
As a field of endeavor, “biblical archaeology” has unquestionably been thrust into a state of identity crisis over the last three decades, owing to forces both within and beyond its own ranks. On the one hand, the aptness of the time-honored expression has itself been effectively challenged by practicing field archaeologists, as evidenced by the recent renaming of the journal Biblical Archaeologist to Near Eastern Archaeology. On the other, the application of the currents of postmodernism with its literary, atomistic, and revisionist approaches to biblical studies—often known today as biblical minimalism—has led to a far greater sense of skepticism about one’s ability to get at the historical core or the hard realia of biblical narratives. At the same time, many public and private revenue sources that were theoretically available to biblical archaeologists a generation ago have dramatically shrunk or dried up altogether. This is compounded by the fact that, in the United States especially over the same period, a considerable number of university chairs of archaeology or departments of biblical archaeology have been discontinued.
The current volume represents an attempt to sharpen focus and to clarify a range of issues related to this painful disciplinary state of flux. The volume contains some nineteen scholarly essays originally presented at Trinity International University as part of a colloquium organized in August, 2001, and sponsored by the North Sinai Archaeological Project. Participants were invited “on the basis that they held a positive attitude to the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament and would examine aspects of it, or parts of it, in the light of archaeological data from the ancient Near East” (p. xii). The essays address broad aspects and specializations within archaeology, including Syro-Palestinian archaeology, Egyptology, Assyriology, Sumerology, Hittitology, Hebrew and Semitic Languages, historical-geography, Near Eastern history, and biblical studies. They essentially cohere to the axiom that “it is too early to write the obituary of biblical archaeology, and that there is a bright future ahead for integrating archaeological materials with the study of the Bible” (p. xi). There are many thoughtful and engaging essays in this volume, making the investment of time and money quite worthwhile for the reader. The essays themselves tend to revolve around four foci—archaeological methodology, archaeological approaches, use of texts in biblical archaeology, and hermeneutics and theology in archaeology—which gives the volume additional distinctiveness within the...
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