domingo, 28 de janeiro de 2007

Uma brilhante defesa de Finkelstein

"Finkelstein está usando a arqueologia para interpretar os textos bíblicos e não os textos bíblicos para interpretar a arqueologia. Eu penso que este é o modo correto para se fazer pesquisa arqueológica em regiões e épocas onde há documentação histórica disponível..."

Quem está dizendo isto não sou eu, mas o arqueólogo Christopher O'Brien em seu blog Northstate Science, no post Apologetics Archaeology? onde ele aborda, entre outras coisas, a discutida questão da baixa cronologia proposta por Israel Finkelstein.

Quem é Christopher O'Brien ?
Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Chico and Adjunct Faculty at Lassen Community College, Susanville. His day job is as the Forest Archaeologist for Lassen National Forest in northern California. He received his BS in Anthropology from the University of California-Davis and a MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently working on the zooarchaeology of several cave and rockshelter sites in northern California, and the historical ecology of several species. He has also been directing archaeological excavations in western Tanzania since 2002.

Consciente de minha incompetência no assunto - quando obtenho uma resposta, ela só me serve para fazer outras maiores perguntas! - limito-me a transcrever alguns trechos do post de Christopher O'Brien. Claro que recomento a leitura de todo o texto. E do livro de Finkelstein & Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, ou, pelo menos, de sua resenha.

O que é a Baixa Cronologia?
Briefly, for readers unfamiliar with the "Low Chronology" debate, archaeologist Israel Finkelstein has suggested, among other things, that strata at many archaeological sites in the Middle East originally dated to the 10th century BCE should be "lowered" to the 9th century BCE. This may seem an innocuous adjustment in dates, but in fact it wreaks absolute havoc with the idea that the bible has any but the most minimal historical validity. It pretty much removes the epoch of David and Solomon from historical consideration, at least as it is represented in the biblical texts. As such it is one of the issues at the heart of the minimalist/maximalist debate in bibical...ah, excuse me, Syro-Palestinian archaeology.

O que faz Finkelstein?
I was struck more with Finkelstein's focus on explaining the archaeology of the region in the context of issues more familiar to me as a research archaeologist: population increase, adaptation, migration and population displacement, environmental context, etc. Finkelstein is an archaeologist whom I expect would feel comfortable in the realm of hunter-gatherer archaeology. I think he ultimately gets what archaeology is all about: understanding past human behavior. More to the point, I think he does what a good archaeologist should: he puts the archaeology ahead of the history as the primary source of explanatory power. And I get the feeling that his critics are ultimately more concerned with the methodological and theoretical approach he uses, than with the archaeological validation of the Low Chronology, per se.

O que Finkelstein faz que é diferente de seus críticos no debate minimalista/maximalista?
What Finkelstein does differently from his critics, is to approach archaeological interpretation of the region on basis of, well...the archaeology. His hypothesis testing is based upon questions of understanding past human behavior in the context of the material culture left behind by extinct human populations, without the theoretical crutch of assuming historic texts have already captured those behaviors and events. Textual evidence is at best a secondary source of information, another interpretive tool in the archaeologist's box, if you will. It may come in handy some time down the
road...after the chronology has been worked out...after the subsistence and settlement patterns have been worked out...after some questions of culture change have been addressed. Now in actual practice we archaeologists tend to run all those one is going to wait for the perfect chronology before developing explanations of culture change; what I am referring to is how you approach the archaeological record from the very beginning.

Mas e o uso seletivo que Finkelstein faz de textos bíblicos para sustentar suas hipóteses e que é visto como um problema por seus críticos?
I have always been curious about the criticism leveled at Finkelstein that he "selectively" uses biblical text to support his contentions. But this is exactly the level of interpretive power expected by historical texts - the written record of the human past is plagued with error, perspective, limited vantage, experience (or lack thereof), political and economic motivation, and outright deception. The range of interpretive "help" provided by historical texts will range from absolutely zero to some textual fragments that may be very useful; with a whole lot of text of dubious quality either way. I would expect only "selected" text to be of any value in interpreting the archaeological record. In fact, I would argue that the archaeological record provides greater benefit at the interpretation of historical text than the other way around. This is ultimately the crux of biblical minimalism: Finkelstein is using the archaeology to interpret biblical texts; not the biblical texts to interpret the archaeology. I think this is the appropriate way to approach archaeological research in regions and time periods where historical documentation is also available. If my understanding of the minimalist/maximalist debate is even remotely correct in this regard, I must obviously count myself among the minimalists.

Por que os críticos de Finkelstein devem ser olhados com desconfiança?
I am nonetheless suspicious of Finkelstein's critics, largely because most of them seem to give biblical texts far greater interpretive weight than is justified, at least relative to the actual archaeology. This is not to say that I think all of them are raving biblical literalists, chomping at the bit to use archaeology to "prove the bible". Some simply see greater interpretive value in historical texts (be they biblical or any other) and reflect this perspective in their archaeological work. I've got no issue with this (other than it is not a methodological approach I would favor - I think it puts the "interpretive" cart before the "data" horse) - for those conducting responsible archaeology, it is simply another approach that ultimately can be tested with additional archaeological data. However, I have a growing concern with the ethical framework in which some Syro-Palestinian archaeological projects are being conducted, and this has to do with many of Finkelstein's critics for whom biblical texts are not simply invoked as a valid interpretive tool, but are viewed a priori as historically accurate. I think this is a serious integrity issue for the future of archaeological research in the region.

Além disso, ele faz duras críticas ao Dr. Joseph Cathey - chega a duvidar de sua qualificação como arqueólogo - e a Steve Ortiz que está escavando Gezer e que chegou, segundo ele, a escrever: "God has called me to do archaeology", e "the solution to doubts about the bible's authenticity is to do your own archaeological work". Diz, de modo direto, Christopher O'Brien:
The Gezer excavations are being led by someone whose sole purpose at doing archaeological work is to "affirm bible history", leading me to have serious reservations about the integrity of the archaeological work being conducted there. I am particularly distressed in hearing discussions of Ortiz's work under the title of "Archaeology As Apologetics". This is a completely asinine description of the real goals of archaeological research - and it completely devastates any authority archaeology may have to tell us about the past. How much evidence at Gezer that doesn't confirm Ortiz's preconceived notions of biblical history will see the light of day?

Entretanto, seria bom lembrar aqui que a classificação de minimalista, atribuída a Finkelstein, não é de todo correta. Ele mesmo já recusou, mais de uma vez, esta classificação. Assim como alguns dos chamados "minimalistas", como Philip Davies e Thomas Thompson, se me recordo bem, não concordam - pelo menos parcialmente - com Israel Finkelstein. As questões relativas à baixa cronologia também não estavam na agenda dos minimalistas. O que ocorre é que algumas conclusões coincidem, mas os estudiosos de Sheffield e Copenhague chegaram a elas por caminhos diferentes e independentes daqueles de Finkelstein. A confusão nasce da classificação de Finkelstein como minimalista por seus críticos. O que eles, os críticos, odeiam mesmo é que os resultados conseguidos pela arqueologia de Finkelstein fortaleceram algumas das posturas dos minimalistas!

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