The cover story of the current issue (December 2010) of National Geographic is entitled “Kings of Controversy,” and it considers the archaeological debate over the kingdom of David and Solomon.
The story is interesting and well-written, and it gives a good presentation of the debate from a mainstream perspective.
On one side is Israel Finkelstein, somehow considered the “establishment, a Goliath fending off upstart assaults on his chronological order.” On the other side, those launching the “upstart assaults” are such novice scholars as Amihai Mazar, Thomas Levy, Eilat Mazar, and Yosef Garfinkel. The writer got his Davids and Goliaths mixed up, for it is actually Finkelstein’s theory which is the late-comer and the minority position among scholars today.
If you’re at all interested in what archaeologists are saying today about this contested issue, the article is worth your time. The photo gallery is viewable at a separate link.
5 thoughts on “National Geographic: Archaeological Views on David’s Kingdom”
I think in one sense Finklestein was the "mainstream position" a few years back in that he was the central figure for the media's coverage of the field due to the stories that his positions are able to create (and not due to the accuracy of his positions or the evidence underlying them). If the media wanted to discuss David, then they always did it through Finklestein, thus creating the view (among the media) that his position was the position of the majority of the guild. Of course, this has never been the case in actuality, but from the media's perspective it was true. Let's not forget that National Geographic is not an academic publication, but a piece of the media.
The article at least does make it seem as though Finklestein's continued attempts to maintain his low chronology are desperate, which I think is something the majority of the guild would agree with at this point. It also views the majority position favorably throughout even if it does incorrectly cast them as the minority position.
Todd, You are right about the writer getting his Davids and Goliaths mixed up. That would make Israel Finkelstein the "nobody from nowhere".
There is no percentage in attacking the bible in a magazine addressed to an American audience. So the writer is doing a hatchet job on Finkelstein. Like the the original tellers of the David and Goliath story he knows the story-telling power of an underdog. Thats why he characterizes Finkelstein's critics as the underdogs. I hope Finkelstein is wrong, and believe he well may be, but the man's published arguments are well reasoned and well supported, a fact that you won't take away from the National Geographic Article.
The writer is doing a hatchet job on Finklestein and he is doing it because there is very little percentage on supporting Finklestein's theories in a popular magazine. Especially in America, the people who are interestested in the history of bible times, are people interested in the Bible. Just as the original tellers of the David and Goliath knew the story-telling power of the underdog, the writer knows that making Finklestein the underdog won't sell magazines. Sure Amahai Mazar is less abrasive than Irael Finkelstein. But the author doesn't do justice to Finkelstein's closely reasoned and well supported arguments. I hope he is wrong and think he well might be, but hatchet jobs don't make him wrong.
Reading good posts and getting ideas is always a good thing, helped provoke thoughtThe bible also shapes our understanding, in my opinion, if we have background information on it too.I have also been able to understand Feast day events too.