On Abandoning the Term Biblical Archaeology
To The Editor:
Your article on my view of “Biblical archaeology” (“Should the Term Biblical Archaeology Be Abandoned?” BAR 07:03), was cleverly written and not unfair as far as it went. I do object, however, to your describing me as a “thorough-going secularist,” since many of your readers will conclude that that discredits my views on archaeology and the Bible; the point I always have tried to make is that the religious stance of the Syro-Palestinian archaeologist should be irrelevant, that it is competence that counts.
Had I been consulted on the article. I would have pointed out several facts. (1) The title of the book I co-edited with Shalom Paul was changed to Biblical Archaeology by Keter Press without our knowledge or permission. (2) Regarding your assertion that my rejection of the category of “Biblical archaeology” is only a matter of “semantics,” not “substance,” I remind you that laymen would dismiss scholarly controversy in most fields as “so much talk,” but that does not make the issues any less significant. (3) Finally, it is unfortunate that you focus on the debate of the early-mid 1970’s, which is already passé. Today, nearly all of us perceive that only by distinguishing Syro-Palestinian archaeology from Biblical studies can we assure the progress of both disciplines and enable archaeology to make its proper, unique contribution to understanding the ancient world of the Bible.