Slate's Bible Blogger in Israel

BiblePlaces readers might be interested in the recent series “Digging the Bible” by David Plotz of Slate, who wrote the “Blogging the Bible” series last year.  Plotz writes well and has some good insights interspersed with inaccuracies.  Some things he says are disputed, while other things would be corrected if he bothered to run it by anyone knowledgeable.  But this is all too common, it seems to me: those who know often can’t write in a way that’s compelling, and those who can write usually are covering fields they don’t really know.

One paragraph of interest:

It’s a eureka moment for me. Suddenly, the wars of the Bible that made no sense on the page are perfectly comprehensible. The geography explains it all: On this side is the backward hill kingdom of Judah. On that side is the technologically advanced coastal kingdom of the Philistines. And here, in between them, is the fortress line that must not break. Standing on this ancient hilltop, looking over a landscape that has not changed much since the Book of Kings—well, discounting the Israeli army base a quarter-mile below—I can see the Bible more clearly than I read it. (Emphasis added.)

But this is what they all say after coming to Israel.  Unfortunately this guy blogged the Bible for a year before he went to Israel.  Perhaps now he should give it another try.


4 thoughts on “Slate's Bible Blogger in Israel

  1. Thanks for your excellent blog. I was a bit perplexed by this sentence, though:

    “Unfortunately this guy blogged the Bible for a year before he went to Israel. Perhaps now he should give it another try.”

    I don’t quite understand this comment. You seem to be implying he had no right to write on the Bible without visiting Israel. I wrote many books on the Bible before visiting Israel – sure it changed my perspective hugely, but it doesn’t make what I wrote before then any less valid. Nor does it in this case. Which is not to say that I’m against people visiting – of course not. I’m just saying that it’s perfectly reasonable for people to discuss, comment, debate and ‘blog’ the Bible, whether or not they’ve dug up pottery.

  2. Nick – thanks for the kind words. As for my statement, I simply think he would do a better job now that he’s seen the land and understands more of the Bible’s context. Many people write on the Bible without going to the lands of the Bible, but I don’t think it’s as good, in the same way that one writing a history of the Chinese people would be benefited by a visit to China. As I recall, Plotz’s Bible blog seemed to be delight in its fresh reading of the Bible, apart from contextual knowledge which would have made some things clearer. Understanding the context requires more than a visit to Israel, but it is a helpful part of that.

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