Comparing Modern and Biblical “Histories”
The idea of history as a scholarly attempt to explain “what really happened in the past” is a relatively young European invention. The “first modern historian” is said to be Edward Gibbon (his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published 1770’s-1780’s); the acknowledged founder of modern scholarly and “evidence-based” history is nineteenth century’s Leopold von Ranke, although many students of history today are influenced by E. H. Carr‘s revision of von Ranke’s idea of the objectivity of “facts” (1961).
Bible authors did not think of writing history in this modern European way. In The Canaanites and Their Land Niels Peter Lemche writes:
Rather than writing history, the Israelite historians composed a novel, the theme of which was the origin of Israel and its ancient history. (p. 158)
Lemche unpacks this a little: Continue reading “The Bible’s “Historical” Writings: Histories or Historical Novels or . . .?”