House of David? Be Careful With the Hyperbole

Honestly, I don’t understand why we have to overstate our positions and continue to insult people.  James writes:

An honest scholar will not say, to give a comparison, that “there is no evidence for a historical David,” but will acknowledge that there is indeed an inscription referring to a “house of David,”

via Exploring Our Matrix.

But, James, there are a LOT of honest scholars who would argue quite the opposite.  You might as well have just insulted most of the European academic institutions with this statement.  It ‘might’ be evidence of a historical David.  There are other readings of this that have been offered, and the context of this is still under debate and has been for over a decade.

Being honest means being able to acknowledge the limitations of one’s position, James.  An honest scholar wouldn’t dishonestly claim to have evidence for something they don’t; instead, one would use more cautious language when discussing the evidence.  One is, of course, acceptably permitted to state your opinion about the data (i.e. you find the evidence compelling that it refers to a historical David) but it is quite another thing all together to mislead people about it.

Someone who criticizes others for misleading people about the state of the evidence should not fall into the trap of doing the same thing in an attempt to counter those they criticize!

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4 Responses

  1. Do you think many of these European academics would answer the question of a historical David with “there is no evidence” and not bother to mention the Tel Dan Inscription? It seems like that would be a oversight of major points of a widely adhered to alternate position. It isn’t like were asking did “aliens build the pyramid?” Whether one agree with the interpretation of evidence or not, I think one should acknowledge reasonable interpretations as evidence potentially supporting an opposing view.

  2. Mike, I know a few who would say that the Tel Dan inscription isn’t evidence of a historical David. And I know some who would agree with you and say that there might be evidence of something, but that what it is evidence of is still up for discussion and not yet decided. An inscription is useful, but not always. Don’t forget it says bytdwd among a number of other inscriptions and its location of provenance, while interesting, isn’t as useful either. We know of ancient inscriptions at Delphi where it is said they contained the bones of Orpheus, for example. If that inscription broke off and only his name could be read, would that mean that this is automatically evidence of Orpheus’ existence? When you find something out of context, it is difficult to make any determination. But rushing to a conclusion that this is automatically evidence is naive at best.

  3. I understand, Tom, I have read recently a slew of books from the minimalist camp and there conclusions on that particular stone, but the fact is they discussed that particular stone, There wasn’t simply the notice that there was no evidence to support a historic David. They instead explained why the supposed evidence is not really evidence. Perhaps in decades to come no one will bother mentioning the other interpretation, in the same way scholars don’t point out the book of Joshua to skeptics of Joshua destroying Jericho as was the case in the past.

  4. Acknowledging something doesn’t make it evidence, however. I suppose I’m not quite sure for what it is you’re arguing.

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