The Real Author in Historical Context
It is always difficult to move from story world to real world. Historical criticism often tries to use texts as windows onto the real worlds--social, political, religious, and so on--that produced them. Such an enterprise is valid, but it must be done cautiously. Placing a work like the Biblical Antiquities into its historical context is difficult. It certainly was not written at the time of the events it narrates or any time close to them. Neither is it an account of those events using trustworthy historical evidence independent of the author's main source, the Bible. Indeed, the Biblical Antiquities contributes nothing to knowledge about the preexilic period. Rather, as a rewriting of the sacred text of the Bible, it reveals more about the author's ideological point of view than about the events described. But this is itself historically important. If the consensus that the Biblical Antiquities was written in the first century C.E. is correct, then it provides access to the thought of at least one individual who lived at that time. If the work is the product of a group or represents the distillation of a community's storytelling over time, so much the better. Then it attests to views held by more than one person in the period in question. Of course, it is always debatable whether the interpretation of the previous chapters does indeed reflect an accurate understanding of the author's thought. This leads to theoretical questions about author, text, and reader that are very much under discussion at present and to which I have no theoretical contribution to make. Nonetheless, ancient texts to some degree reflect the thoughts, intentions, attitudes, and emotions of those who produced them, and the attempt to uncover those thoughts and intentions, no matter how problematic, is a worthwhile endeavor.
In previous chapters, I have bracketed specifically historical concerns in favor of a more literary approach. Observations about historical connections were kept to a minimum and relegated to the notes. The primary concern was to see the text as narrative and to see how it works, particularly in terms of plot, character, narrator's point of view, and ideological point of view. Strictly speaking, references to the "author" or to "Pseudo-Philo" (when that term meant the author as opposed to the text) meant the implied author, the author inscribed in the text. One might question whether the views of the implied author are the same as those of the real author. But the ideological point of
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Publication information: Book title: Pseudo-Philo:Rewriting the Bible. Contributors: Frederick J. Murphy - Author. Publisher: Oxford US. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 262.