BAR’s dual review of Israel Finkelstein’s award winning Forgotten Kingdom shows what is good and bad in academia today.
Good is Burke’s intelligent if not always complimentary assessment of Finkelstein’s book. And bad is Dever’s petulant and childish screed manifesting nothing besides professional jealousy and envy.
Burke’s analysis is measured and his reading is open and sympathetic (in the sense of a willingness to hear out Finkelstein even if at the end he doesn’t agree). Dever’s analysis allows readers to get a good grasp of Dever but nothing of the book which Dever misrepresents at every turn. But this is no surprise, given that Dever numerous times admits that the book is …
…. so drama-filled, so clever that it took me—a specialist—a bit of time to see through it.
Dever has to tell readers he’s a specialist because he isn’t acting like one with his demeaning and condescending tone.
It’s tragic that Dever read the book with hatred in his heart. Had he read it as a scholar, he may well have disagreed with the book’s conclusion but he would have done so with some dignity. As it is he’s simply exposed his bias. Perhaps he’s lost his way. Perhaps the suggestion that the book is drama filled is merely a bit of projection… And it is Dever himself who is overly dramatic but nonetheless quite easy to see through.
Read Burke’s review and read Finkelstein’s book. But skip Dever’s screechings. The desert hasn’t been kind to him.