Tag Archives: Lemche: The Canaanites and Their Land

Will the real Canaanites please stand up!

In yesterday’s post I quoted a brief outline of the variant meanings that have been assigned “Canaan” and “Canaanites” throughout supposedly biblical times. But there is much more to be said, or at least suggested. Niels Peter Lemche discusses these concepts in depth in The Canaanites and Their Land and here I lay out one of the many facets making up that book: — that Canaanites for the Bible’s authors really meant fellow Jews who stood apart as religious rivals.

After surveying in depth the historical references to whatever was truly Canaanite in the second and first millennia b.c.e. (and demonstrating how alien each historical reference is to anything about Canaan and the Canaanites in the Bible) Lemche addresses the treatment of the term in the various books of the Bible. In his concluding chapter he addresses conclusions that may be drawn — or rather postulates that may be aired — if we think of the historical books as being written in the late Persian or Hellenistic eras. read more »

The Bible’s “Historical” Writings: Histories or Historical Novels or . . .?

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: read more »