Jim West asks:
What’s intriguing to me is that no matter how far we seem to proceed in the discipline of historical methodology, we’re constantly brought back to the core issue which seems to be, the biblical text either is or isn’t ‘history’ (with all manner of variation along that spectrum). Is there a way past this impasse?
I think this is interesting for a lot of reasons. First, I cover this in the introduction and first chapter of my book Of Men and Muses (currently undergoing revisions for a new edition, forthcoming); I believe the problem is that historical critical questions are not asked correctly, that is to say, they are too narrowed in their objectives. Historical critical methods are, as part of their very nature, based not in retrieval (the interest of the author to his readers) but in Hegelian-esque interpretation (to assume a core historical event then seek to discover what that event is).
In order to push beyond this impasse, the historical critical method, still an important part of scholarship, should be employed only after one can determine the value the text has, theologically and culturally. Only after the narrative function of a text is understood, the value, historically, can be understood.