The Bible’s History Of Israel, A Literary Review.

Often commenters here say the Old Testament accounts of history are “largely accurate”.  What is meant by, “largely accurate”, is, of course, up to the individual.

It is true some of the historical leaders mentioned in the Bible were people also mentioned in non religious documents.  This could be someone’s definition of “largely accurate”.

When we do a literary review of the Bible, it’s like what scholars do with Shakespeare or Herman Melville.  They compare how a story is told with other story tellers at the time and discuss the social/political values reflected in the writing.

If we do this with the Bible’s story of the founding of Israel we find one unmistakeable pattern.  The unknown writers of those chapters were not interested in how many innocent people were slaughtered nor the injustice done by those who “founded” Israel.

Instead, the authors of the stories divided leaders into those who were faithful to God and those who were not.  Those who followed God and God’s instructions won battles and ruled successfully.  If they had character flaws, like taking the wives of others, God forgave them and they were considered successful anyway.  Those who strayed from God were regarded as unsuccessful.

The authors were aiming their message at people of that time.  They wanted readers to know there was a company line and to not follow it was to be a failure.

I don’t agree this story telling account of history is what we can call, “largely accurate.”

5 Responses

  1. History is always open to interpretation which is why we have so many books written about major events that contradict each other. Why should the bible be an exception to this? If we can’t even agree about World War I, why would we assume that what was written in the bible is any different? The idea that the bible should be considered literally true is absurd on it’s face. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    1. entech

      The reason that we are obliged to take the Bible as true and accurate and anything else required is because so many need it to be true.

      1. Yes, Entech, it’s interesting that it all comes down to personality types: those people who tend toward authoritarianism have been found to be more religious than those who tend toward espousing individual freedom of thought and nonconformity. The authoritarians among us feel more secure if they believe someone is in charge whereas nonconformists generally are comfortable with uncertainty. This same dynamic is seen in political affiliation with the authoritarians finding conservative top-down direction a comfort in contrast to the liberal tendency to accommodate the differences among us.

    2. Wolfy32

      Well, so much is largely inaccurate within historical documents because the documents retained were those of the victor. In many instances the losers… well, if even known, get an editor’s note saying they lost.. The only thing that has changed in all of history is maybe since WWII, there’s so much information on WWII, it’s pretty clear the losers are largely studied and known.

      However, go back even 400-500 years, and losers are hardly mentioned, or known. Entire civilizations have disappeared and we have no idea why. Not much is retained from civilizations gone missing. Were they conquered or simply dispersed? If there is mention of losers, its probably most likely written by the winners. So, it’s going to be biased… That nation over there is evil.. Yup, so, that means, there’s not a single person in that country that’s innocent? The entire population is guilty for living in that country… Got it.. That’s God’s judgent on the men, women, children, and elderly.


      1. entech

        To the victor the spoils, and one of the spoils of war is censorship of history.

        Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
        Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.


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