Yosef Garfinkel’s “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism” in the May/June 2011 Biblical Archaeology Review created quite a stir. Garfinkel controversially critiques Biblical minimalism as “profoundly undermined by an archaeological discovery.” Citing the major archaeological discoveries of recent decades and his own excavation site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, he argues that David and Solomon ruled over a well-organized and fully urbanized Judahite state in the tenth century B.C.E. In doing so, he rejectes some of the essential tenets of Biblical minimalism and the Low Chronology.
As would be expected, proponents of Biblical minimalism were upset by Garfinkel’s article, noting that their research was far from dead. The prominent Welsh minimalist Philip Davies published a response on the Bible and Interpretation Web site (included here). In it, he accuses Garfinkel of “misrepresent[ing]” what minimalism is, of being a “careless and overblown writer” and “unable to distinguish truth from fact.”
Yosef Garfinkel recently responded to Davies with a clarification of his points. He focuses on a discussion of the mythological paradigm, the Low Chronology paradigm and the ethnic identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa. The reply is far from a concession: it presents data on the groundbreaking excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa that point to the existence of to an organized state in the early Judahite Kingdom. Finally, he continues his charges against Biblical minimalism, suggesting that the minimalist school of the 1980s meant “minimalism in knowledge and limited intellectual horizons.”