I Kings: With an Introduction to Historical Literature

I Kings: With an Introduction to Historical Literature

I Kings: With an Introduction to Historical Literature

I Kings: With an Introduction to Historical Literature

Excerpt

The chief aim of this book and its successor volume is to present a sustained form-critical analysis of the books of Kings: the whole composition, its parts, and the parts in relation to the whole. Usually biblical scholars stress textual, historical, and philological matters and expend considerable effort in reconstructing earlier stages of development which led to the present Masoretic text. I have reversed the emphasis—not to ignore these matters, for they have been considered at every point, but to focus our attention on the literary features of Hebrew historical narrative. I have also given special attention to forms of historical writing among ancient Israel’s neighbors, the better to see the Old Testament as one among several obsessions with the past.

This point of view has meant that the classic categories of form criticism (formal structure, genre, setting, and intention) which underlie this book have been redefined somewhat as befits their application to a substantially unified, singly authored work deriving from the exilic period of Israel’s history, after 587 B.c. The reader will notice particularly that I have tried to take “structure” beyond formalism and have discussed aspects of literary art: style, metaphor, imagery, inner associations, and allusions, all parts of a narrative genius which awakens imaginative response in the reader.

The analysis and commentary are based on the Hebrew Masoretic text and coordinated for the reader to the Revised Standard Version. Text-critical decisions are not noted unless there were compelling reasons to adopt a reading different from that which underlies the Revised Standard Version.

I have selected items for the bibliographies according to the particular aims of the commentary. Listed are works whose primary contributions are to literary and form-critical problems. In addition, the reader will find reference to accessible editions of ancient Near Eastern historical texts and treatments of historiography by recognized specialists.

An author’s intellectual debts are probably too numerous and assimilated for individual acknowledgment. Certainly mine are. It is more realistic to express gratitude to special benefactors of time, money, and work space: Bowdoin College for research grants and released time; the Society of Biblical Literature and the School of Theology at Claremont for appointment as the SBL Fellow for 1979; Candler School of Theology at Emory University for tangible support and intellectual excitement during 1982.

I dedicate this book to my wife, Judy. She shares with me the pursuit of individual accomplishment. But she has unselfishly, lovingly, deferred and slowed her own work on those occasions when I took extended leaves from domestic responsibilities.

BURKE O. LONG

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