>In an article published in the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, William Dever criticized scholars who have adopted a minimalist view of the biblical traditions and mounted a strong defense of ancient Israel. Dever made his criticism during a recent presentation at the Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.
The following are a few excerpts of Dever’s presentation:
“Dever verbally buried a group of academics he referred to as “secular fundamentalists.”
According to Dever, the group is intent on reducing ancient Israel to “foundation myths,” and derives its impetus from a less-than-scholarly locus.
“Most of these people are not Jewish,” said Dever in response to a question after the event. “They are largely Christian theologians who come from a place [northern Europe] that’s been infected with anti-Semitism for centuries, and their ideas reflect that. They’re also almost universally anti-American.”
Dever, who wrote “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?” said that the work was largely a response to the group of theologians, who Dever says have called him a “Nazi” on numerous occasions.
Dever’s spirited dismissal of the group wasn’t surprising given his enthusiasm for the earth that he has excavated for almost a half-century. The professor, who sits on the editorial boards of groups ranging from the American Journal of Archaeology to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Near Eastern Archaeology, commenced his talk with a personal tribute the city.
“Fifty years ago this summer, I first visited Jerusalem, and it changed my life,” Dever said. “Jerusalem looms large as a home to me — both spiritually and temporally,” he continued, adding that no city in the world can claim to be as archaeologically complex as Jerusalem.
“But against all odds, Jerusalem prevailed, and archaeology gives the lie to people who insist that there were no ancient Jewish cities,” Dever remarked. “Archaeology brings the Bible to life in the most vivid way possible — and that’s its ultimate beauty.”
“In archaeology, if something is too good to be true — it probably is,” he said.
“One of the surest ways we can determine that we’re dealing with ancient Jewish ruins is the absence of pig bones,” Dever said. “It seems that Jewish prohibition against pork goes back a long way.”
Read Dever’s remarks by clicking here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
UPDATE: Read Jim West’s criticism of Dever here.