SV: miqra Nor Is It Necessarily Not So, Part II

Thomas L. Thompson tlt at
Tue Nov 9 03:15:54 EST 1999

Dear list members,

The recent article of Hershel Shanks in the newspaper Ha-'Aretz presenting a
response to Ze'ev Hertzog presents a long series of misrepresentations (*)
and/or slanders(**) against either Professor Hertzog or other scholars,
among whom is the writer. The reader is invited to read Professor Hertzog's
article, Niels Peter Lemche's Israel in History and Tradition (1998) or my
The Mythic Past (1999= The Bible in History: London) to judge the truth of
Shanks' attack.

The misrepresentations and slanders are given in order of appearance in
Shanks' article. Assertions of guilt by association is the leitmotif of
Shanks' article.

*1) While the minimalists have no formal organization.
*/**2) The share the basic view that the Bible is . . . a glorious but false
national history.
**3) That the minimalists are motivated by interests other than pure
scholarship is widely acknowledged.
**4) Most of them also have a political agenda.
**5) Professor Malamat described one of them as anti-Israel and anti-Bible.
**6) They can even be viewed as anti-Semitic.
*/**7) The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian
History: That about says it all!
*/**8) The position of the minimalists takes on a conscious anti-Israel,
pro-Palestinian cast.
**9) resonates with some of the recent revisionist histories of modern
*10) embarrassment at placing any great value. . . on the Bible
*11) prefers to deny the possibility that there is history embedded in the
*12) All scholars agree that . . . Egypt was ruled by some Asiatic
interlopers known as Hyksos
**13) When we trumpet the negative, we only play into the worst elements
among the biblical minimalists
*14) The minimalists conclude that there was no patriarchal age and that
there was no historical truth behind the narratives
**15) It begins to seem that he (Hertzog) has another agenda--simply to
destroy the credibility of the Bible, as is so fashionable among academic
*16) The minimalists most recent attack is on the United Kingdom
*/**17) To question the very existence of the United Monarchy because the
Bible does not preserve its name as Hertzog does, bespeaks of denigration
rather than a rational search for truth.
*18 Do these finds demonstrate that all Israel was polytheistic?
*19) Do these finds disprove the biblical assertion that elements in Israel
soon developed a concept as a single god.
*20) But neither were they all polytheistic.
*21) This wholly chance find (Merneptah stele) makes the minimalists squirm.
*22) They argue that it refers only to a geographic location, not a people.
*23) Without this chance find, you can be sure the minimalists would be
arguing that there was no such entity as Israel at such an early period.
*24) Just as the minimalists were revving up for a full scale attack on the
existence of David.
*25) It is unjustified to throw it out as historically worthless.
**26) A few scholars with a political agenda.

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor, University of Copenhagen

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