Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Texts
Author: Jens Bruun Kofoed
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During the past two or three decades, the value of the text of the Hebrew Bible as a testimony to the history of Israel has come under siege. As the date of the final form of the text has been pushed later and later, often into the Hellenistic era, the text has been devalued accordingly: what is “late” is viewed as having less value. At the same time, the connection between the text and extratextual information, particularly from archaeology, has been rendered less and less clear by both archaeological investigation itself and an increasing inability to connect text and artifact, or to do so compellingly. Some of the foremost scholars who have argued that the biblical text contributes little to historical research have come from Copenhagen.
Now, from Copenhagen, Jens Bruun Kofoed steps forward to address the methodological issues that must lie behind the use of the biblical text and its validation as a source for historical information. In this volume, he sets out the methodological stepping stones necessary to an honest use of the biblical text and, through discussion of presuppositions underlying various methodologies and by evaluating specific test cases, shows (among other things) that “lateness” of the extant text by itself is not a charge that reduces the text’s value as a source of historical information; that taking modern genre research and authorial intent into account opens new vistas for evaluating the historiographical reliability of ancient texts; and that a way forward from the current impasse is possible.
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