“Biblical minimalism,” as it is known, has gone through a number of permutations in the recent past. Its modern career began about 30 years ago, when BAR was still a youngster. Since then it has been part of the ongoing debate regarding the extent to which historical data are embedded in the Hebrew Bible.
In the mid-1980s the principal argument involved the dating of the final writing of the text of the Hebrew Bible. The minimalist school claimed then that it had been written only in the Hellenistic period, nearly 700 years after the time of David and Solomon, and that the Biblical descriptions were therefore purely literary.