Biblical Archaeology Review 38:5, September/October 2012

Josephus vs. Jeremiah

The Difference Between Historian and Prophet

By Avishai Margalit

On some things, all agree: Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar is a careful, competent excavator who welcomes even her severest critics to her site. And, unlike many, she promptly publishes preliminary excavation reports, making available the details of her finds, as well as her interpretations.

Criticism of her excavation in the oldest part of Jerusalem, known as the City of David, begins even with the way she decided where to dig—based on what can be inferred from the Biblical text about King David’s palace. As her critic Ronny Reich, who is digging southeast of Mazar in the City of David, put it: “From the few verses mentioning [David’s palace] in the Bible, Mazar was certain she knew where it was.”1

Mazar, it should be noted, did not rely on only the Biblical text in suggesting the site. In addition to her interpretation of some Biblical passages, she refers to a number of other considerations that guided her choice of a site to excavate.a

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