OT Israel History and Literature

 “…The purpose of Israel’s literature is theological.  It is selective, as all historical writing must be, and it has an agenda.  It is not interested in preserving events for history’s sake.  Its purpose is to document Yahweh’s action in history and his control of the flow of events.  In these documents the nation is more important than the king, and God is the main focus.  Israel’s identity and function as Yahweh’s covenant people is the backbone of the entire historical corpus.  Thus we could say that whereas the objective of much ancient [Near East] historiography is to offer the desired understanding of the accomplishments of the king, the objective of Israelite historiography is to offer the desired understanding of the accomplishments of God” (p. 210-11).

Taken from the introduction to historical literature in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament ed. Walton, Matthews, & Chavalas (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000).  I’ve really appreciated this commentary – I highly recommend it.  Also, I’m pretty sure that educated laypeople would be able to read and enjoy it.

shane lems

sunnyside wa