Spanish Hebrew BibleOne of the most controversial issues in modern Biblical studies is the increasingly assertive contention that the Bible is essentially useless as a historical source, even for the period of the Israelite united monarchy (tenth century B.C.E.). David and Solomon, it is claimed, are mythological, not historical. The Bible, according to this school of thought, can tell us only about the period in which it was written; naturally, these scholars contend that it was written late—in the Persian period (fourth century B.C.E.) or even in the Hellenistic period (third-second centuries B.C.E.).

To discuss these issues, BAR brought together two of the most prominent scholars who take this position—Niels Peter Lemche and Thomas Thompson, both of the University of Copenhagen—and two internationally known scholars who take, to a greater or lesser extent, differing views. They are archaeologist William Dever of the University of Arizona, and Biblical scholar P. Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The sometimes heated discussion was moderated by BAR editor Hershel Shanks.

Read the rest of Face to Face: Biblical Minimalists Meet Their Challengers in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.