BAR 34:03, May/June 2008
The End of Biblical Studies
(Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) 399 pp., $32 (hardcover)
The reviewer of a book should declare up front any material biases, so here is mine: I am a supporter of the Biblical Archaeology Society and believe that Biblical archaeology is both useful and fascinating. Thus, it is disconcerting to discover a book entitled The End of Biblical Studies, whose third chapter begins, “Biblical archaeology lies in ruins ...” According to author Hector Avalos, the entire field is so riddled with shoddy practices, erroneous conclusions, religious and political bias and downright forgery, that its usefulness has come to an end. His criticisms, which include not only Biblical archaeology but also Bible studies, together with virtually all the practitioners of these two disciplines, are sweeping and unremitting. But instead of being constructive, Avalos’s arguments come off in the end as an exercise in emotional nihilism whose conclusions seem ultimately self-defeating.