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Old 08-05-2001, 01:16 AM   #11
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I read Dever's interview to say that he is trying to protect the middle ground from post-modernism, but I don't see much post-modernism in Finkelstein's work, so I am not sure what the issue is. I read his review of Finkelstein's book as an attack on the political implications of his work.

In fact, I am not sure who Dever is attacking when he attacks post-modernists.

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Old 08-05-2001, 07:01 AM   #12
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Dever's principal opponents are Thomas Thompson, Keith Whitelam, Neils Peter Lemche, Philip Davies, Diane Vikander-Edelman, et al. He has considerable respect for Israel Finkelstein, and this comes across in his new book "What did the biblical writers know...?" I think he's rather cynical regarding Finkelstein's political motives, and probably thinks that Finkelstein has crept over toward the minimalist camp as a political reaction more than anything else.

In Israel there are many people who base the Jews' claims to the land on the Hebrew Bible. This view is of course strong among the religious but so pervasive is the influence of the Bible that it is probably operative on some level even in the minds of many secular Israelis. Attacking the historicity of the Bible delegitimizes such political views, and, hopefully (in the minds of those who reason thusly) makes it easier to trade land for peace, withdraw from settlements in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria), etc.

Finkelstein and Dever also have had professional disagreements. Finkelstein criticized Dever's identification of an Israelite ethnos in the Iron I Judean highlands. He also disagreed with Dever's statements that terracing and hewn cisterns were Iron I innovations. Finkelstein claims that transhumant groups encroached upon the central highlands from the east, whereas Dever had in 1990 emphasized the importance of Isbet Sartah as one of the earliest ethnically identifiable Israelite sites, but which was toward the west. Incidentally, if you read Dever's earlier book "Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research" you'll probably get the impression, as I did, that Dever enjoyed making a big deal out of Isbet Sartah precisely because it contradicts the biblical settlement model (in which the Israelites enter from the east).

[ August 05, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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