Minimalists vs. Maximalists

Total Posts:  110
Joined  05-10-2007
26 May 2008 05:00

The writings of Devers, Davies, and Shanks have been drawing my interest as of late. I enjoy looking at both sides of this debate as I feel the most accurate answers to most questions comes through the discussions of opposing schools of thought. The following is a nice summary though perhaps arguably a bit biased.

“The minimalist side is represented by Philip Davies, who argues first and foremost that the difference between minimalists and maximalists is not as great as it might at times appear - this is because the maximalists have had to abandon a great deal of their traditional ideas about the historicity of many portions of the bible. Sometimes also called the “Copenhagen School” (also: biblical revisionists and even biblical nihilists by less sympathetic people), the minimalist position is that the stories in the bible are largely mythical in nature. Although they take place in real places and may sometimes be loosely based on real people or events, the stories themselves serve a mythical rather than historical function. They are an attempt of later generations to develop and lay claim to an identity, not an attempt at disinterested historical reporting.

Curiously, the so-called “biblical maximalists” accept that as being an accurate assessment of quite a bit of the bible, at least up until the “United Monarchy” at the time of David and Solomon, when Israel and Judah were still part of one kingdom. The general public is, unfortunately, very much unaware of this. Many assume that the Bible is much more historically accurate than even conservative scholars are usually willing to admit. That is why this particular debate is worth promoting - the more people realize just how little of the Bible is considered historical, the better they will be.”