Thursday, April 03, 2008

history of Ancient Israel

1759 map of the tribal allotments of IsraelThe history of Ancient Israel and Judah is known to us from classical sources including Judaism's Tanakh or Hebrew Bible (known to Christianity as the Old Testament), the Talmud, the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast, the writings of Nicolaus of Damascus, Artapanas, Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus supplemented by ancient sources uncovered by biblical archaeology including Egyptian, Moabite, Assyrian, Babylonian as well as Israelite and Judean inscriptions.

It was also subject to domination by adjacent empires, beginning with Egypt in the late 3rd millennium BCE.

In his book What did the Biblical Writers Know and When did they know it? William Dever suggests that rather than there being just one history there are in fact multiple histories and that we can distinguish nine types of history of Israel and Judah as follows.

  1. Theological history – the relationship between the God(s) and their believers.
  2. Political history – usually the account of “Great Men”, is generally episodic, chauvinistic and propagandist
  3. Narrative history – a running chronology of events, purporting to be factual but always very highly selective
  4. Socio-cultural history – a history of institutions, including their social underpinnings in family, clan, tribe and social class and the state
  5. Intellectual history – the literary history of ideas and their development, context and evolution as expressed through texts and documents
  6. Cultural history – is based upon a larger context of overall cultural evolution, demography, socio-economic and political structure and ethnicit
  7. Technological history – a history of the techniques by which humans adapt to, exploit and make use of the resources of their environment
  8. Natural history – is a geographic history of how humans discover and adapt to the ecological understandings of their natural environment
  9. Material history – as shown in the study of artifacts as correlates of human changes in behaviour.


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