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Monday, September 26, 2005
 
Historiography? ::

Jim has posted a reply: "More on Historiography and the Loss of A Focal Center" to Tyler's excellent post: "Histor(iograph)y and the Hebrew Bible
The Nature and Function of Histor(iograph)y
".

In this Jim writes:
But all of this is quite outside the originally framed discussion which had to do with a far more specific question- is the Hebrew Bible historical? Does it contain what modern historiographers call "history".
This is a non-question. Of course the Bible does not contain what modern historiographers call "history", any more than it contains what modern theologians call "theology" (i.e. usually systematic theology!). The genres are different because the cultures are different. End of discussion, next question!

The next question is much more interesting... Does the Hebrew Bible contain information that a modern (or post-modern?) historian can take into account? And that is where the maximin scale distinguishes us. Minimalists believe that the Hebrew Bible contains nothing of value (though what is already demonstrated to have happened from other sources may perhaps actually have taken place). Maximalists believe that everything happened like the Bible says, except where disconfirming evidence is produced. And everybody else believes they have to weigh the evidence and come to conclusions about "what actually happened" on the basis of competing fragmentary interpreted evidence.

On history I can't agree with Jim's minimalist position, nor could I be a maximalist, despite lack of evidence to the contrary Jonah's successful preaching in Nineveh seems to me unlikely ;) Where I have sympathy for Jim's position is his stand that discussion of history is secondary, the theological questions are the primary interest of the text, and ought to be ours. But this position is not welcomed in the modern academy. (Perhaps it will be more at home in some post-modern academy?)




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