This book, Introduction to the Historical Books: Startegies for Reading presents a fresh introduction to the "historical books" of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Beginning with a breakdown of the literary genre these writings represent and their relationship to history, Steven McKenzie discusses the larger units of the Bible that they constitute - the "Deuteronomistic History" and the "Chronicler's History" - and then surveys the critical methods that scholars use to study them.
These introductory matters are followed by a chapter on each of the Historical Books - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah. Each of these chapters contains a detailed outline of the book's contents and a thorough discussion of the issues peculiar to that book - its text, composition, relationship to history, special literary features, and theology.
Although his book is not principally a primer in the use of different methods, McKenzie does introduce readers to a range of critical approaches - textual, literary or source, tradition, canonical, intertextuality, and others - and demonstrates that the ultimate goal of these approaches is to determine how the biblical materials reflect or convey actual history as understood today. His explanation of the purpose of ancient history writing helps readers come to terms with apparent tensions between the Bible's account and modern historical analyses.
Interspersed with various reading strategies and tips for reading and interpretation, McKenzie's up-to-date, scholarly (yet not overly technical) guide to these rich documents at the intersection of history, literature, and religion will be ideal for undergraduates, seminary students, and Bible study groups alike.
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