Biblical Archaeology Review 37:4, July/August 2011

First Person: The Bible as a Source of Testable Hypotheses

By Hershel Shanks

In the highest, most sophisticated levels of professional Biblical archaeology, there is a certain prejudice against the Bible.

I take as my text a passage from a new book of which (full disclosure) the Biblical Archaeology Society, publisher of BAR, is a copublisher with the Israel Exploration Society. The book, written by my good friend Ronny Reich of Haifa University and excavator of the City of David,1 is titled Excavating the City of David (reviewed in this issue). It is a magnum opus that will be read and studied a hundred years from now; but it does treat dismissively the excavation of another good friend, Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University. (Ronny even accuses Eilat of acting “unethically,” but that is another matter.2)

One of Eilat’s crimes, according to Ronny, is using the Bible as a guide to where to excavate. Let me unpack this: As Eilat read the Bible, it seemed to indicate just where King David’s palace might be buried in the City of David—at least, it did to her. On this basis, she decided to dig there.

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