Towards a New History of Israel

Jan-Wim Wesselius


The status and use of Primary History (the books Genesis –
2 Kings) as a historical source is highly dependent on its literary nature as a
unitary work written after 440 BCE, most probably between 440 and 420, the
structure of which apparently derives from and refers to the Histories of
Herodotus of Halicarnassus. Another important literary feature is the peculiar
use of alternative versions to indicate uncertainty and doubt about the
narrative itself, the result of which used to be regarded as proof for the
Documentary Hypothesis. The contrasting absence of such alternatives for much of
the history of the ninth-sixth centuries BCE as found in the Books of Kings
provides a formal indication that it was meant to give a more or less accurate
picture of the period.

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