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The Creation of History in Ancient Israel Paperback – July 30, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


'Brettler's study is very clever. The layout of his presentation is certainly seductive, and he has without doubt opened the eyes of many readers to the methods of the historians of ancient times ... a diligent description of biblical history-makers at work.' - Journal of Semitic Studies

'Brettler argues that history is constructed rather than recounted. He is less concerned with what transpired than with what was remembered, how it was remembered, and why ... This is an interesting and well-written book.' - The Bible Today

'The author should be congratulated on his systematic and penetrating source-critical analysis of several Biblical texts. His study is an important contribution to scholars and students.' - Jewish History

'Brettler's readings are filled with both insight and learning.' - Regent's Review

'At the level of the specific analysis of texts, there is much here which commands assent, and even admiration. Brettler has not only read widely in the secondary literature, but he has a sharp eye for what is going on in the primary sources and is full of valuable sugestions about literary analysis, allusions to other texts, the direction of dependence, and so on.' - H. G. M. Williamson, Journal of Jewish Studies

About the Author

Marc Zvi Brettler is Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brandeis University. His is the author of God is King (1989).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (July 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415194075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415194075
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,998,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Cargill on October 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book examines the process of the creation of history in the Hebrew Bible. Brettler sets out to "show what various biblical authors were `trying to do' when they wrote" their respective works.
The author begins with a strong survey of the history of historical criticism, followed by a presentation of what he believes to be the "four central factors responsible for the production of ancient Israelite biblical texts:" the use of typologies, the interpretation of earlier texts, literary shaping, and ideological influence. During an introductory discussion of `history,' `ideology,' and `literature,' Brettler suggests that what has classically been understood as `history' should actually be called `historiography' or `history writing,' while history should be understood simply as, "a narrative that presents a past." Along the same lines, `ideology' is best considered "a specific set of beliefs," which Brettler differentiates from `propaganda,' which is the method used to disseminate those beliefs. Finally, the author discards the word `literature' as an accurate description of the biblical text, arguing that "literary works are determined by the community, not by their authors." Therefore since the author did not consider his work to be literature, but rather a history, we too should refrain from calling the narrative `literature.' Brettler does concede that there are various rhetorical or literary devices and genres employed within the biblical text, but since the author employed these devices with the intention of writing a narrative history, we too should refrain from referring to the results of his literary endeavors as `literature.' This is a fine hair to split and will certainly be criticized by future respondents.
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The Creation of History in Ancient Israel
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