First, it’s new (according to its author) because
After almost 150 years of work, biblical archeology has thus moved from a supporting role in theological dramas to a fully scientific branch of world archeology. But for over two decades it has also been drawn directly into the Arab-Israeli and, increasingly, the Muslim-Jewish, conflict. At its extreme, biblical archeology has been falsely accused of being a handmaiden of Zionism, through the invention of finds as well as the destruction of Palestinian and Muslim remains. Israelis and Arabs alike have been bitterly critical of research projects, particularly in Jerusalem, which appear to upset the city’s delicate Jewish- Arab relations.
Still, the most notable feature of the new biblical archeology is that it is largely unapologetic. Some of the largest projects are undertaken precisely on sites that relate directly to biblical history. The vitality of the archeological community is met with eager public interest, with CNN and Fox News carrying stories about sites that appear to figure prominently in biblical history. The successful run (whatever its leaps of faith and logic) of TV’s biblically-focused The Naked Archeologist is another sign of public interest.
I’m not sure really how Joffe can make either of those claims legitimately. The idea especially that the new biblical archaeology is disconnected from apologetics is disproven the minute one looks at what’s going on in the City of David dig. And the press’s coverage of the field tends to be grossly ill informed (as are Simcha’s television specials).
In short, I don’t think there’s much new about the current practice of archaeology in Israel aside from the work of Finkelstein, Cline, and Maier and some new tools utilized in the field.
Anyway, read it all and form your own opinion on the correctness of Joffe’s views.
- An Open Letter to Journalists Researching Biblical Matters and Biblical Archaeology (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Getting the Media to do their Job When it Comes to ‘Biblical Archaeology’ (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Boy if that isn’t The Ideological Pot Calling the Archaeological Kettle Black! (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)