Khirbet Qeiyafa participant interviewed on the Christian Humanist Podcast (updated)


Recently on the [ad hoc] Christianity podcast we linked to a few articles around the blogosphere discussing Khirbet Qeiyafa and its implications for minimalists, i.e. those historians who expect that the historicity of the Bible’s stories is minimal at best. Khirbet Qeiyafa is a site on the border of ancient Israel and Philistine territory that many say problematizes the claims that no Israelite kingdom of any appreciable size existed during the time of David.


Image via Wikipedia

A podcast I enjoy, and this despite frequently disagreeing with it vociferously, is The Christian Humanist Podcast. Well, this week‘s discussion is on archaeology, particularly as it relates to the Bible. I am much more of a minimalist than anyone on this show, but fortunately a significant block of time was given to discussion of the Khirbet Qeiyafa dig, due to guest Luke Chandler, an archaeologist an ancient historian who’s been working at the site for the last few years (who blogs here).

Among the discussions of this show were the ancient name of the site, whether the language of the inscriptions is an early form of Hebrew, whether evidence actually suggests that the inhabitants were keeping kosher(!), and a conservative yet appreciably circumspect view of the limits of biblical archaeology for determining the Bible’s reliability. Chandler also takes some time to discuss the recent trend of fraudulent claims made by some who may justifiably be known as “naked archaeologists” in that they have been entirely denuded of credibility.

Just a minute more to plug the Christian Humanist podcast again: as I said, they are theologically quite a bit more conservative than I, but if you would enjoy some unusually erudite and interesting discussions of literature, history, and culture involving likable personalities, I suggest that you subscribe (iTunes link here).

(Update) The guest is not an archaeologist but an ancient historian working with the archaeologists at Khirbet Qeiyafa.

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  • Michial Farmer

    Thanks for the plug. As you might imagine, we think more highly of listeners who like us despite disagreeing with us!

  • Steve, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your position on the minimalist-maximalist debate?

    • Hi Nathan,
      My take on it, not as someone who’s well-read in this stuff but who likes to read the well-read, is that both minimalism and maximalism are artificial and reckless if used as principles: approaching the data from a presumption that the Bible maximally, moderately, or minimally reflects history is dreadfully problematic, since we should be allowing the data to inform us before we make such assumptions. Thankfully, more judicious scholars generally don’t approach the data that way.

      That said, most who spend their time looking at the data have opinions that can be classified as maximalist or minimalist based on the conclusions they’ve drawn. I certainly tend to be minimalist in my expectations because I don’t think we have sufficient reason to believe that the Old Testament is in the position to be able to give us objective views of history. Then again, regarding some of the shibboleths, I personally expect David to have been an historic king and even find little enough reason to doubt Moses’ historicity (I’ve yet to come across a credible enough alternative explanation for those figures’ significance and resonance in Israel’s cultural consciousness).

      So count me minimalist in expectation but moderate in application — remembering, of course, that I have a lack of credentials and familiarity with the literature in the field that virtually disqualifies me from making such assumptions! 🙂

      • Thanks! 

        The data really does interest me (and especially the impact it could have on our understanding of the Scriptures).  However,  it seems almost impossible to determine which position is closer to the truth given my lack of exptertise in this area.

        Am I correct to assume that even most maximalists would doubt the historicity of the Exodus, Canaanite conquests, etc??

        • I’m already out of my depth on these questions, Nathan. 🙂 There are
          certainly minimalists who are strikingly more conservative than others, and
          so I assume there are maximalists who are strikingly more liberal than
          others. Is that a mamby-pamby enough way of saying, “You’ve got me”? 😉