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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although generic distinctions existed in the ancient world, biblical scholars too often overemphasize the distinction between epic and history, neglecting how they have similarities as interpretations of the past. Ancient historiography was typically read aloud; therefore, biblical historiography (analogous to oral traditional epic) occurs in textual plurality and multiformity. Thus, biblical historiography is an example of what John Miles Foley calls “traditional history” (2010), which differs from “factual” history, but nevertheless can be understood as a “true” interpretation of the past. This chapter briefly surveys discussions concerning the supposed distinctions between epic and history and the portrayal of reading historiographical texts as oral performance in Greco-Roman culture and biblical texts (including Luke-Acts), before applying Foley’s notion of traditional history to Samuel-Kings//Chronicles as illustrated in a comparison of 2 Samuel 21:18–22//1 Chronicles 20:4–8.

Keywords: historiography, the book of Samuel, the book of Chronicles, oral tradition, John Miles Foley, the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts

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