Rereading the 'books' of the Hebrew Bible: A comparative study of references to written documents in the Hebrew Bible and Classical literature

Stott, K. M. (2005). Rereading the 'books' of the Hebrew Bible: A comparative study of references to written documents in the Hebrew Bible and Classical literature PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Stott, K. M.
Thesis Title Rereading the 'books' of the Hebrew Bible: A comparative study of references to written documents in the Hebrew Bible and Classical literature
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Conrad, E.
Total pages 329
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subjects L
780199 Other
440204 Christian Theology (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Formatted abstract

Within the wider context of studies that explore the relationship between biblical and classical literature, my thesis revisits anew the question of how references to written documents in the Hebrew Bible (HB) ought to be understood by drawing attention to the purpose that references to documents serve in classical texts. While there has been a tendency in modem biblical scholarship to interpret references to 'books' and other written documents in the HB as references to sources that were used by the writers of the biblical literature, the model provided by classical literature suggests that such references could serve a much wider range of functions. Furthermore, the classical model not only raises questions about whether these references can be used to construe a reliable picture of the contents of the mentioned sources but also challenges their very existence. Although classical authors regularly cite written material in support of claims or stories, my research suggests that they do not always use this material in ways that modem readers might expect. Just because a writer cites a source does not mean he has rigorously examined it or even seen it all. Indeed, the source may not have been authentic, or equally, it may never have existed. 


My thesis pays particular attention to the practice of citing fictive references to written documents that appears in classical literature. I survey instances of fictive references in classical literature and examine the purpose that they serve in their respective literary contexts. The model provided by classical literature strongly undermines the traditional tendency to see references to books in Kings, Chronicles and other biblical texts as reliable source citations. This model also suggests alternative interpretations about the function of such references, which I examine in some detail. In addition, I advance in the thesis an alternative interpretation for certain biblical stories about documents such as the book of the law (see e.g. 2 Kings 22), the scrolls of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36), and the edict and decree of Cyrus (see Ezra 1 and 4 respectively), by reading them in conjunction with classical texts/stories that fictively claim to be based on long-lost older material that has recently been found (often in a tomb or temple). With some exception, there has been a tendency in modern scholarship to read these biblical stories as historical accounts that refer to documents that actually existed. However, in light of classical comparisons, I explore the possibility that the stories serve a primarily rhetorical rather than historical purpose in their literary context. 

Keyword Bible. O.T. -- Criticism, Textual
Hebrew literature -- History and criticism
Additional Notes The18669: Number "8", in page numbering and actual text, was replaced by letter "G" thoroughout the book.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:48:20 EST