Maximizing Literacy as a Protective Strategy

Redescribing Evangelical Inerrantist Scholarship on Israelite Literacy

In: Biblical Interpretation
Stephen L. Young Brown University, USA

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Evangelical Christian inerrantist scholars consistently maximize the extent of literary reading and writing abilities in ancient Israel, especially beyond scribes, priests, and other elites or professionals. How they frame the issues, handle the data, represent their work as academic historical research, and engage in certain recurring patterns of argumentation invites analysis. This article analyzes the publications of inerrantist scholars on Israelite literacy, in particular Alan Millard and Richard Hess, as examples of inerrantist discourse and argues that their scholarship on Israelite literacy is characterized by protective strategies that privilege biblical claims. The article thus aims to explore part of the historiography of scholarship on Israelite literacy, to provide an accurate account of what precisely inerrantist scholars are doing in their publications on the topic, and to reframe inerrantist scholarship on Israelite literacy as data for the study of religion.

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