The Text of the Hebrew Bible

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The Text of the Hebrew Bible. Probably over a time period of roughly 800 years – 922 BCE to 164 BCE Only after the time of the Kings (e.g. Saul, David c. 1110 BCE) would there have been a writing culture
The Text of the Hebrew BibleProbably over a time period of roughly 800 years – 922 BCE to 164 BCE
  • Only after the time of the Kings (e.g. Saul, David c. 1110 BCE) would there have been a writing culture
  • Prior to this time, stories and songs would have been transmitted by “oral tradition” (spoken form)
  • Oldest written sections (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) date between 922 BCE and 721 BCE
  • When was the Hebrew bible written?The narrative from Joshua to 2 Kings was complied from older written stories and records around 620 BCE with new material added  this was expanded and revised sometime after 582 BCE during the time of the Babylonian exile
  • The Prophets (original prophetic speeches were given orally and most likely written down later by the prophets’ disciples) began with Hose and Amos(c. 750 BCE until Haggi and Zechariah c. 515 BCE)
  • Additions were later made to the prophetic speeches (e.g. stories about Jeremiah in the book of Jeremiah) and later prophetic speeches were added by unnamed prophets (e.g. Isaiah 40-66)
  • A few prophets may have written their original words (e.g. Exekiel which appears to be more of a written than oral form)
  • Continued…The Psalms come from many different time periods
  • They were collected into a worship book (the form we have now) during the post exilic period (anytime from 500 BCE)
  • Proverbs also evolved orally over a long period but the present written collection is probably post exilic
  • Other writings are clearly post-exilic (e.g. Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, Esther, Daniel) while some appear to have been written in the post exilic period (e.g. Job, Ecclesiastes)
  • Some writings are difficult to date (e.g. Ruth, Jonah)
  • Continued again…The O.T. contains the witness of God’s people to their understanding of how God is a part of their story as a people, and to their changing understandings over the centuries of what it means to be faithful IsraeliteThere is as much diversity of perspective in the O.T. as there is in Christianity todayTherefore we look not at THE Old Testament understandings of God, but at Old Testament UNDERSTANDINGS of GodNotes on reading the old testamentStories in the Bible tell about events and characters who live at a certain point in history but because the stories were written much later than the events they describe, they sometimes are inaccurate as to what the actual conditions wereHistorical research can help us learn what the conditions likely wereHowever, this does not apply to all the texts (eg. Genesis 1-11)The History in the textSince the text was often written long after the events described, it is important to know what the importance of the text was the authorSometimes a biblical author wrote or spoke directly about events in his own time – this is often true of the prophetsThe History of the text
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