Second Temple Essay/Historians
Here is an article from Bible and Interpretation which I really should plug by Diana Edelman summarising her new book. Here's the abstract (via Jim West):
It is hard see what benefit would have accrued from rebuilding the temple under either Cyrus or Darius while Jerusalem remained unoccupied and in ruins. How would either king have benefited from a pilgrimage site in a destroyed city in an underdeveloped, distant province? A summary of the main arguments made in D. Edelman, The Origins of the 'Second' Temple: Persian Imperial Policy and the Rebuilding of Yehud (London: Equinox, 2005).
One general line from the in particular stands out as something ALL biblical scholars should have to deal with PROPERLY: "Contemporary history-writing grouns its interpretation of events in chains of logical cause and effect that does not include God as an active agent or motivation." Such practice is often lacking, is it not, among historians in biblical studies (virgin birth, resurrection, floating axe heads, a load of bodies rising up from tombs etc.)?