In order to show the contrast in ways to approach the narratives in the Pentateuch, I am going to shift from Gnuse’s The Elohist to James Hoffmeier’s Ancient Israel in Sinai for one or two posts before I have to take a week off.
Hoffmeier makes the point that there is a flaw in the approach that many recent scholars have taken. That approach seeks to build a view of ancient Israel from archeology and extra-biblical sources only. What archeology has recovered about religion shows Canaanite religion being practiced. Hoffmeier has it right when he points out that, since there are severe restrictions on doing archeology on the Temple Mount, what we are going to find is popular religion. The whole point of the Bible is to criticize this popular religion. So finding that Canaanite religion was popularly practiced does not really undermine the accuracy of the narratives.
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