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Rethinking the Historiographical Impulse: The History of Ancient Israel as a Problem

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The first part of this paper provides some insights into the problematic nature of the genre “history of ancient Israel”, both in terms of historiography and of historical epistemology. It is argued that the concept “history of ancient Israel” is essentially valid within a particular modern theological or biblical historiographical context. As such, this history of ancient Israel may indeed progress and generate new understandings but is nonetheless seriously limited by its main concern with “biblical Israel”. It is also proposed that in order to overcome these thematic and epistemological historical limitations, a wider history of ancient Palestine or the Southern Levant should be envisioned, into which to understand the epigraphic and archaeological realia of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, together with other contemporary polities in the region, and the later development of biblical traditions and texts. The second part of the paper addresses questions of ethnogenesis, socio-political organization and identity in the light of the previous discussion, setting the stage for an alternative history of Israel and other historical realities in ancient Palestine.
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Keywords: Ancient Israel; Bible; Palestine; epistemology; historiography; history; methodology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National University of La Plata & National Research Council (CONICET), Saavedra 15 – 5to piso, Buenos Aires, Argentina C1083ACA

Publication date: January 2, 2018

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