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The Hebrew Bible and History: Critical Readings
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The Hebrew Bible and History: Critical Readings


Bloomsbury 2018

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Gathering Interest


These critical readings explore the history of ancient Israel, from the Late Bronze Age to the Persian period, as it relates to the Bible. Selected by one of the world’s leading scholars of biblical history, the texts are drawn from a range of highly respected international scholars, and from a variety of historical and religious perspectives, presenting the key voices of the debate in one convenient volume.

Divided into five sections—each featuring an introduction by Lester Grabbe—the volume first covers general methodological principles, before following the chronology of Israel’s earliest history; including two sections on specific cases studies (the reforms of Josiah and the wall of Nehemiah). A final chapter summarizes many of the historical principles that emerge in the course of studying Israelite history, and an annotated bibliography points researchers towards further readings and engagements with these key themes.

T&T Clark Critical Readings is a series of reader-style companions. The volumes present key studies in a sub-discipline of Biblical Studies in one convenient volume aimed at postgraduates, scholars, and researchers. Each volume is broken down into carefully selected segments, which are each introduced by the volume editor(s). As such these reference resources seek to map sub-fields for postgraduate study and enquiry. Each section finishes with an annotated bibliography, furthering the aims of the volume in generating research and further study.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Explores the history of Israel from the late Bronze Age to the Persian period
  • Focuses on the methodology of historical research
  • Dicusses the principles for writing histories


Part I: Studies in Methodology

  • Some Aspects of Working with the Textual Sources
  • The Strange Fear of the Bible: Some Reflections on the “Bibliophobia” in Recent Ancient Israelite Historiography
  • Is it Possible to Write a History of Israel without Relying on the Hebrew Bible?
  • Reading the Bible Historically: The Historian’s Approach
  • Does Archaeology Really Deserve the Status of a “High Court” in Biblical Historical Research?
  • Malleability and its Limits: Sennacherib’s Campaign against Judah as a Case-Study
  • On the Problems of Reconstructing Pre-Hellenistic Israelite (Palestinian) History
  • Text, Context, and Referent in Israelite Historiography
  • The Big Max: Review of A Biblical History of Israel by Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III
  • Who Is the Prophet Talking about, Himself or Someone Else?” (Acts 8.34): A Response to Lester Grabbe’s Review of A Biblical History of Israel

Part II: The Beginnings of Israel and the Rise of the Monarchy

  • The Geography of the Exodus
  • History in Joshua
  • History in Judges
  • Saul ben Kish in History and Tradition
  • The Mighty Men of Israel: 1-2 Samuel and History
  • Sources and Composition in the History of David'
  • David and the Philistines: Literature and History
  • King Solomon’s Copper Supply
  • The Socio-Political Shadow Cast by the Biblical Solomon
  • Biblical Jerusalem: An Archaeological Assessment
  • Secondary Sources Also Deserve to Be Historically Evaluated: The Case of the United Monarchy

Part III: Case Study: The Question of the Reform under Josiah

  • Josiah and the Law Book
  • Why a Reform Like Josiah’s Must Have Happened
  • Was There a Cult Reform under King Josiah? The Case for a Well-Grounded Minimum

Part IV: Case Study: The Problem of Nehemiah’s Wall

  • Geographical Lists in Ezra and Nehemiah in the Light of Archaeology: Persian or Hellenistic?
  • Jerusalem between Two Periods of Greatness: The Size and Status of the City in the Babylonian, Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods

Part V: Conclusions

  • Seventeen Years of the European Seminar in Historical Methodology: The Results


  • Herbert Niehr
  • Hans M. Barstad
  • J. Maxwell Miller
  • Nadav Na’aman
  • Ehud Ben Zvi
  • Niels Peter Lemche
  • Thomas L. Thompson
  • Iain Provan
  • V. Philips Long
  • Tremper Longman
  • John Van Seters
  • Ernst Axel Knauf
  • Diana Edelman
  • Walter Dietrich
  • Hermann Michael Niemann
  • Anne E. Killebrew
  • Rainer Albertz
  • Philip R. Davies
  • Christoph Uehlinger
  • Israel Finkelstein
  • Oded Lipschits

Praise for the Print Edition

It is well known that for the last several decades the study of ancient Israelite history has been a hotbed of scholarly dispute. Lester Grabbe’s new book addresses this dispute directly. The essays, from a variety of scholars, range from general reflections on historical method to studies of particular episodes in the history of ancient Israel and the sources for them, especially the Hebrew Bible. To help the reader sort these essays out, Grabbe provides summaries of them, along with remarks on the common issues they treat and the context of contemporary scholarship to which they belong. The essays themselves are detailed and provocative, and while a number of them take a seriously critical stance toward the Hebrew Bible as a reliable historical source, Grabbe has sought in places to balance these out with others that offer an opposing or moderating voice. In all, a substantial volume that repays close scrutiny.

—Peter Machinist, Harvard University, USA

Product Details

About Lester L. Grabbe

Lester L. Grabbe is Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism at the University of Hull. He is founder and convenor of the European Seminar in Historical Methodology. A recent book is Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know it?

Sample Pages from the Print Edition