History and Historical Writing in Ancient Israel: Studies in Biblical Historiography

History and Historical Writing in Ancient Israel: Studies in Biblical Historiography

History and Historical Writing in Ancient Israel: Studies in Biblical Historiography

History and Historical Writing in Ancient Israel: Studies in Biblical Historiography


In how far do the traditions in historical writing reflect history in the Hebrew Bible? This momentarily hot-debated question is the central issue of the current volume, in which the author takes a firm stand against the sceptical approach to the unity and historicity of biblical traditions. Part One of the book opens with a systematic examination of twenty-seven lists of the original inhabitants of the Promised Land who were doomed to be dispossessed by the Israelites. Two essays are devoted to a historical investigation into the political leaders sopet and nagid. In the following special attention is given to formulae denoting dynastic change, royal succession and to the expression people of the land and house of Ahab. Part Two deals with the historical interpretation of the narrative of Solomons succession to Davids throne. The author concludes the work with two comparative studies on biblical historiography and inscriptions from Ydy-Samal and Assyria.


This book is a collection of essays which I published in periodicals, collections of studies, and Festschriften in 1973–93. All the essays in this book are previously published articles revised with reference to recent studies. But it was impossible for me to discuss anew in this book various issues raised there. Therefore, by posing some fundamental questions which have arisen in my mind while I was studying recent discussions about historical studies of the Hebrew Bible, I will here express my view on biblical history and historiography in accordance with which I have pursued my studies.

To begin with, what I felt to be problematic is the title of the very source material of our study: the Hebrew Bible, generally called the Old Testament according to the Christian tradition. It is clear that the title Old Testament demonstrates the Christian theological view that the Hebrew Bible is to be understood as the first volume of the Holy Scriptures of which the concluding second volume is the New Testament. However, the canonization of the Hebrew Bible had been completed by Jews who had nothing to do with the Christian theology before the New Testament was authorized in the Christian church.

Therefore, from the purely historical point of view, it is hardly legitimate to consider the title Old Testament appropriate to historical studies. Moreover, Biblia Hebraica is not the original text of Vetus Testamentum in the strict sense of the term. They are traditionally different from each other in the order of the books as well as the division of chapters and verses. Therefore, the great majority of scholars in practice employ the Masoretic texts in BHK and/or BHS for the original source. Under these conditions it seems illogical that

For an illuminating discussion about the issue see J.D. Levenson, “The Hebrew
Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism”, in R.E. Friedman and H.G.M.
Williamson (eds.), The Future of Biblical Studies. The Hebrew Scriptures, Atlanta, 1987,
pp. 19–60.

For the history of the canonization of the Hebrew Bible see J.A. Sanders.
”Hebrew Bible” in “Canon”, in ABD I, New York, 1992, pp. 837–852; for the
New Testament see H.Y. Gamble, “New Testament” in ibid., pp. 852–861.

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