The Death of Biblical Minimalism

Biblical minimalists have a very low concept of the Bible.  Those who hold a minimalist view of the Bible believe that the Bible was written in the Persian period and that the facts contained in the Bible cannot be used to write an authoritative history of Biblical Israel.

One good example of a minimalist view of the Bible is found in Israel’s History and the History of Israel (London: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2003), a book written by Mario Liverani.

Liverani discusses what he called the “Invented History of Israel.” Liverani believes that the history of Israel found in the Bible is an ideological rereading and rewriting of the Deuteronomic history in order to undergird the political realities of post-exilic Judah. According to Liverani, the rewriting of Israel’s history served as a strategy to implement a program of national recovery that would provide political and religious legitimacy for the people who made a commitment to return and re-colonize Judah after the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia, allowed the exiles to return home.

For a review of Liverani’s book, read my posts here and here.

In the May/June issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Yosef Garfinkel has written an excellent article titled “The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism” in which he presents some of the results of his excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa.  According to Garfinkel, the evidence found at Khirbet Qeiyafa contradicts the argument presented by Israel Finkelstein, one of the major proponents of the lower chronology, which is one of the arguments used to support a minimalist view of the history of Israel.

In the process of providing evidence for the demise of Biblical minimalism, Garfinkel discusses the Tel Dan inscription which mentions the “House of David.”  He also discusses the mention of the “House of David” in the Mesha Stela, and the archaeological evidence at Khirbet Qeiyafa that confirms the traditional chronology for the Iron Age in Judah.

BAR has made the article available to the general public.  I recommend this article to readers because Garfinkel presents solid reasons to reject the minimalist approach to the history of Israel.  You can read the article by visiting BAR online or by clicking here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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3 Responses to The Death of Biblical Minimalism

  1. Hi, Dr. Mariottini! I really enjoyed this article. Amazingly there was an article on the same subject on Debunking Christianity in which Moses’ authorship of Leviticus and the other books of the Law is thrown under the bus. I’m planning a fuller response because the article gives 5 specific examples. I’m going to be looking into it further and I realize you may be too busy to respond to this in detail but I thought you might get a kick to see how God used you to provide some antidote to a poison ion case you didn’t see it. Thanks for your work! You can find my link to this issue at


    • Marcus,

      Thank you for the link. Biblical minimalists reinterpret many of the archeological data to fit their preconceived ideas about the Bible. It takes fortitude to respond to their argument. Best wishes in your effort.

      Claude Mariottini


  2. Pingback: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on Ancient Israel | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

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