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Old 04-26-2001, 11:13 PM   #1
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Post Biblical Archeology

Times have changed; 8-track tape players are no longer standard equipment in automobiles and some of us are learning that it's not OK to beat horses anymore.

Archeologists are not immunne to changing times. Classical archeology tended to be concerned with validating whatever version of history has come down to us in texts, although it has sometimes corrected the historical texts that inspired it. At its worst, it has been involved in "cultural looting"--digging up a site and carting off treasures to museum collections. Its worst fault was that it was not critical of its own assumptions.

Processual archeology of the 60s and 70s was involved with prehistorical work and--in the absence of texts--concentrated on material remains. Since texts represent the elite of society, the same archeological techniques for studying hunter-gatherers would be the same for studying factory workers in the Industrial Revolution.

Post-processual archeology is an ideological enterprise done in the post-modern present to serve present interests. It was developed in the early 1980s as a deliberate critical reaction to the processual type.

Biblical scholarship has undergone a similar transformation. First, scholars mined the text for nuggets of verse to uphold their theological points. Next, such devices as "form criticsm" and other "criteria" were discovered and refined to help the scholar focus more on the material, pattern/language aspects of the Bible. Now the best and honest of scholars (as opposed to the apologists who talk the language of biblical historians but act out the methods of the apologists) are moving in concert to the best and honest archeologists. Both attempt to wrestly honestly and closely with the postmodernist idea that the object known is changed by the subject knowing it.

The present must reconstruct the past so each can challenge and change the other by argued evidence in public discussion. By making one's methodology as self-critical and self-conscious as possible and by conducting one's arguments as pointed and precise as can be done, the right questions can be raised and hopefully confronted.

On these boards that may mean, focus, focus, focus and repeat, repeat, repeat until the meaning of one's question is finally made evident in the response it elicits.

[This message has been edited by aikido7 (edited April 27, 2001).]
 
 

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