Biblical Archaeology Review 33:2, March/April 2007

Historic Homer

Did It Happen?

By Edwin M. Yamauchi

In a vigorous denunciation of the so-called Biblical minimalists, William Dever makes a very important observation on a subject not directly related to the Bible:

A generation ago, even a decade ago, Classicists and ancient historians would have dismissed Homer as a mythical figure and would have argued that the tales of the Trojan Wars were mainly “invented” by much later Greek writers. (Sound familiar?) ... It is now thought that those stories of warfare do not simply reflect the situation of Greece in the eighth–seventh centuries [B.C.], but go much farther back to a genuine historical situation of the 13th–12th centuries, that is, to the period of the movements of the various “Sea Peoples” across the Mediterranean (including the Biblical “Philistines”). Thus, it is now argued, a long oral tradition, preserving many authentic details of earlier Greek history, persisted down until about the eighth century, at which time these traditions were finally reduced to writing.1

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