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In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World by John van Seters

By John van Seters

The first challenge of this hook is to appreciate the origins and nature of historical past writing in historical Israel. The research is undertaken opposed to the historical past of historical past writing within the close to japanese and classical worlds. Professor Van Seters starts with a wide survey of the entire historiographic fabric correct for the learn of Israel’s personal writing of historical past. He then turns his realization to the query of Israel’s historiography via focusing rather at the Deuteronomistic Historian, the 1st Israelite historian.

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60 After the prologue dealing with the wider history of mankind, the focus is narrowed to the forefathers of the nation of Israel. The contrast between the age of the patriarchs and the “heroic” age is sharply drawn. ” This is the strongest critique of the heroic age. It is entirely likely that the writer, J, was aware of such notions in other cultures— Babylonian, Phoenician, and even Greek— and found this way of repudiating them. Nor is there anything in the treatment of the patriarchs themselves that would suggest an epic.

21 One other writer is worthy of some comment. Ion of Chios, who dates to the mid fifth century, was noted primarily for his tragedies, comedies, and other poetic works. He also wrote a local history dealing with the founding of Chios which consisted of an account from the island-state’s mythical origins to historical times. Such local histories, of which there were perhaps many, were not chronicles but stories set down in a chrono­ logical sequence. Ion also wrote a work of anecdotes about political fig­ ures with whom he was acquainted, a remarkable instance of an early memoir.

Cross. The latter, in his book Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, makes frequent reference to the “Epic sources” of the Pentateuch but gives no explanation for his use of the term epic. His short definition of “Epic sources” is similar to Freedman’s. 2 9 . ID B 3, p. 7 1 7 . 30. Freedman emphasizes in the preceding paragraph the contrast between pagan myth­ ical thinking and Hebraic historical thinking, a contrast we have already had reason to question. 31. IDB 3 , p. 7 1 7 . 32. See H. M. and N. K.

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