Chapter

Israel to the End of the Persian Period: History, Social, Political, and Economic Background

J. W. Rogerson

in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199254255
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Israel to the End of the Persian Period: History, Social, Political, and Economic Background

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This chapter examines the social, political, and economic background of Israel to the end of the Persian period based on extra-biblical texts, archaeological discoveries, and anthropological models. Writing the history of Israel to the end of the Persian period presents a major challenge for scholars. They face the dilemma of either following the biblical outline and using archaeology to fill in the gaps; or placing greater weight upon the nonbiblical evidence. Answers in favour of the first option may be based upon a sincere, but misplaced, wish to be loyal to the truth of the Bible. Although the biblical narrative is silent on all but religious happenings for the first half of both the 8th and the 7th centuries, as well as much of the 6th to the 4th centuries, it should not be concluded that the historical information in the biblical records is worthless. The writings of the Old Testament are not documents of the national and religious history of Israel and Judah, but kerygmatic texts whose form is that of collections of writings within a religious canon. That is their value, and to recognize this is not to be disloyal to them.

Keywords: ancient Israel; biblical texts; archaeology; anthropological models

Chapter.  8326 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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