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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: May 2006

13 - The historical books of the Old Testament

from Part 2 - Biblical books in modern interpretation


The biblical books to be considered in this chapter are Joshua, Judges and Ruth; 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles; Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Together they tell the story of Israel from the point at which the people entered Canaan down to the Persian period, when some Jews had returned to their homeland and others still remained in foreign lands. The state of current research on these books may perhaps best be summarized in the following way. There is a lively debate among interpreters as to whether they are indeed best considered as 'historical books' at all, and in which sense they might be best considered so. There is a further debate about the proper or primary task of interpreters in relation to these books. In what follows we shall join these two debates and reflect upon the various issues that arise from them. In this way we shall form a rounded, if somewhat generalized, view of the ways in which our literature is currently being approached.