If there were a boxing fight between the two premier heavy-weight archaeological fighters today, they might be introduced something like this in the ‘ring’.

“In THIS corner, disregarding any account from the Old Testament as genuinely historical, giving pre-eminence to pottery sherds and radio carbon-14 dating, and always skeptical of anyone trying to prove the Bible is true . . . the Minimalist!”

“And in this corner, wanting desperately to believe that the Biblical record is historical-literal and can be proven to be true based on archaeological evidence, skeptical of radio carbon-14 dating, and giving pre-emninence to history,the Bible, poetry and literature . . . the Literalist!”


And the announcer would continue, “All right boys, I want a clean fight. . . .” However, the fight seldom is ever clean, because so much is at stake for both fighters.

To get a good sense for the drama and the meaning behind the fight see this excellent article in The Smithsonian Magazine online to better understand the difference between how minimalists and literalists approach doing archaeology.

Read the full Smithsonian Magazine article

According to Jennifer Wallace of Smithsonian Magazine

Biblical minimalists . . . argue that the Old Testament is literary rather than historical—the work of ideologues who wrote it between the fifth and second centuries b.c.—and that Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon never even existed.

The Armchair Archaeologist says: minimalists are muggers. Talk about ideologues! Why is it that any other culture in the ancient Near East, say Sumeria, Babylon or Persia, can have historical authenticity with some archaeologists, but when it comes to the ancient Israelites they are automatically viewed as historically unreliable at best? There’s certainly an agenda going on here. The truly unreliable archaeological study happening here is on the part of the minimalists who start out with a conclusion and work backwards to interpret their results.