Israel Finkelstein and his hermeneutics of suspicion


Israel Finkelstein unfortunately carries the name of a group of Hebrews that were faithful to their God, not operating with the German bred hermeneutics of suspicion that was nurtured in the period of Rationalism, Deism, Enlightenment, changing colors in Modernism all with the attempt to work toward agnosticism and finally nihilism. There is nothing. And that is the article of Finkelstein on the wall of Nehemiah. He objected to the numbers of people, the archaeological evidence of the walls, you name it. Every time I get upset with Finkelstein it is because he lost sight of the holistic view of archaeology and wants to major with the minors. Let me make the principle clear again: one cannot dig 5-10% of a city and then present this as if it is the final total mass of information that one can get ever on this topic. He did it with the settlement patterns of Israel and he did it with this topic on the wall of Nehemiah again. His methodology, like that of Eichrodt on Old Testament Theology, sinks with the attempt to think that minor evidence means minor reality and quantitatively many data means increase of the reality. This axiom does not work and is bound to misrepresent the past or will be in conflict with the data from Scriptures. It is like cutting one piece of a cake and say: there is definitely not a single ant in this cake. What an assertion. And thousands of scholars are running after this kind of superficial reasoning. It does not matter how eloquent you present the case, or how friendly, or how humble, if there is not there out there, there is nothing to be called or denied “there”. He denied it. Others affirms it, me included.



I.Finkelstein, “Jerusalem in the Persian(and Early Hellenistic) Period and the Wall of Nehemiah”. BASOR 1994.