As I was reading Genesis 12 today on lunch break, I thought to myself “Hm. Abraham originating from Ur of the Chaldeans. Almost like the returnees from Judah during the Persian period were originally Mesopotamian…Wait, that sounds exactly what Mike Magee has been hypothesizing on his askwhy.co.uk! ”
Thus, I realized why Mike agreed that the Babylonian period as a period of complete desolation in large parts of Palestine, and even went further in arguing that there was no certain evidence of Babylonian-era settlement in Judah-something I was surprised by (I thought he was arguing that Judah was never fully independent, and was, therefore, a client state or province until the Hasmonean era). His theory was that basically (almost?) all Judahite culture was wiped out by the Babylonian exile, and that the Bible was 100% a post-Exilic product. This explains his insistence that ‘biblicists’ have been placing Persian-era artifacts into the 7th C BC/Assyrian period-he needs to be maximalistic about what Perso-Hellenistic Yehud could accomplish in literary terms.
I still think my (Mattfeld&Finkelstein’s) view that the Bible contains substantial pre-Exilic (mostly Josianic, though a large part Exilic) influence, from the Judahite District Lists in Joshua 15&18 (not likely to be recorded by the Babylonian conquerors!) to the record of Shoshenq I of Egypt in 1 Kings 14:25 to the numerous condemnations of Bethel, fitting excellently with Josiah’s conquest of it (Shechem would have made more sense as the prominent ‘evil’ cultic center in the Hellenistic era). Why is Amaziah’s defeat at Beth-Shemesh mentioned (Beth-Shemesh was a ruin from 586 BC to the Roman period)? Why does Solomon’s Kingdom look eerily like Jeroboam II’s Kingdom of Israel? Why is Shiloh, long forgotten by the Persian period, made such an important site in the Deuteronomic History?