Historiography of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Historical Overview of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Times I.: Mesopotamia to the Time of the Patriarchs (2900-2000 B.C.), the Patriarchal Period (2000-1600 B.C.) and Egypt to the Time of the Exodus

The aim of the lecture is to furnish a foretaste of historiography within the realm of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible studies. The historiography of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is one of the most contentious issues of this field of study. This may be ascribed to the fact that on one hand it is one of the most extensively conferred about topics and on the other hand the least well circumscribed. Oftentimes the results of various historiographical undertakings seem to be discordant with each other because they are produced by scholars with differing personalities and perspectives. Furthermore, one may pose the question whether the phrase “of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible” is to be interpreted as a subjective genitive or an objective genitive? Should the purview of study be the historical consciousness of ancient Israel, apparent in the professedly historiographic texts of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (subjective genitive) or other more novel trials to produce a history of ancient Israel (objective genitive)? Should the emphasis be on biblical history, that is the history as presented in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or on Israelite history, that is the history of ancient Israel displayed in modern research?

Through this lecture the student will learn that one-sided theories tend not to generate balanced and solid results. However, a multifaceted methodological approach has a greater possibility of offering viable solutions for the questions posed earlier. It has been suggested that such an approach may be achieved by refining the canons of the historical-critical method, by restricting the allegations of the social science methods and by rethinking the repercussions of modern literary methods. Regarding these steps as essential for the current and future status of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible historiography, one could submit that any type of historical nihilism will fail to furnish a balanced review of the many details from biblical narratives corroborated by archaeological and ancient near eastern sources.

The second part of the lecture seeks to present the most up-to-date scholarly results with respect to the genesis of ancient near eastern chronology. Furthermore, four major chronological periods are explored, notably Mesopotamia to the time of the patriarchs (2900-2000 B.C.), the patriarchal period (2000-1600 B.C.) and Egypt to the time of the exodus.