Friday, February 3, 2017

Tamen Usque Recurret

In a just released book review, Emanuel Pfoh, laments that twenty years after he thought that the idea of a historical bible had been so "deconstructed and transformed" that he hoped "it would never recover," he instead finds to his chagrin it "to be as vital as it was more than twenty years ago."

Welcome to mortality Professor Pfoh. The real issues never go away and every generation gets to answer them again for themselves.

Professor Pfoh finds it so abhorrent that anyone would take the historicity of ancient Israel seriously that he must provide "some critical comments" against anyone who would dare take it seriously. After all "nowadays it [the existence of an “Israelite people” before the Iron Age and outsidePalestine] would hardly be considered a historical fact supported by archaeology and epigraphy". But, according to Pfoh, "one should not attack so much the genre as the very procedures of history writing typical in a genre like the aforementioned." Apparently taking an ancient historical account seriously as history is a crime that deserves to be attacked at all costs.

Pfoh asks, "Is there a “people of Israel” as a coherent, self-conscious, homogeneous group in Iron Age Palestine?" Fair enough. Was there a coherent, self-conscious, homogeneous group of Luwians in the Iron Age Levant? I have read books about them that treat them as historical, but there is less historical evidence for them than there is for ancient Israel, and the historical evidence for them shows them to be much less homogeneous than ancient Israel. After looking at his publications, it is not surprising to find out that Professor Pfoh does not indicate that he has ever tried to reconstruct any ancient history of any place. It might be an informative exercise for those who doubt the historicity of ancient Israel to pick a large tell in the ancient Near East and try to write a history of the site. Until they do, they will, like the graduate school professors they studied under, just keep trying to drive out nature with a pitch-fork.