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The Creation of History in Ancient Israel Paperback – June 25, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"Readers cannot help but be impressed by Brettler's clear and flowing writing, by the concise way he covers so many difficult issues of biblical scholarship, and by the abundance of critical notes that reflect wide knowledge and deep observation."
-"Review of Biblical Literature
"Highly recommended to seminary and graduate students, scholars, faculty, and interested general readers."
-Choice, November 1996
"A diligent description of biblical history-makers at work."
-"Journal of Semitic Studies

About the Author

Marc Brettler is Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Literature and chair of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. His main areas of research are religious metaphors and the Bible, biblical historical texts, and women and the Bible. He is the author of several
books and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible.
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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: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 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: #2,154,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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