Texts and Archaeology

‘So why begin with the textual evidence, biblical and extrabiblical? It would also be possible to begin with the archaeological evidence, provided that we limited ourselves to cataloguing the material evidence (perhaps forming tentative judgments about social context and general modes of living) and vigorously resisted the temptation to begin writing our own “stories” about specific events and persons. As is often observed, material evidence alone is il suited to tell a story, except perhaps a very general story about the longue duree. Study of the material evidence is best suited for establishing general conditions and gauging the plausibility of stories that available texts tell. If our interest is in human history, and not just natural history or general social history, texts prove invaluable. Appropriately then, especially in view of our openness to testimony, we begin with the texts. They provide a story, or stories, the plausibility of which we may then test in the light of whatever material remains are known.’ ‘Provan, Long, Longman III, ‘A Biblical History of Israel’,p. 147)