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The Primary History consists of the first nine books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis – 2 Kings), with a main focus of the land. Some scholars argue that these books should be considered as one unitary literary work, a great narrative that tells the history of the Israelite people, written or edited by a small group of people or an individual. Scholars link the Primary History to the works of the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BCE) arguing for influence one way or the other.[1] On the positive side, such a view encourages scholars to look across book divisions to larger works in the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, arguing for the Primary History diminishes, or even ignores, other important scholarship on the formation of the Hebrew Bible, such as the Documentary Hypothesis or the Deuteronomistic History. Also, most of the connections made between all nine books are thematic, having no real influence on the structure or language of the books.


[1] Jan-Wim Wesselius, The Origin of the History of Israel: Herodotus' Histories as Blueprint for the First Books of the Bible, JSOT Supp 345 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), for example, argues that the Primary History was a deliberate emulation of Herodotus’ Histories. On the other hand, David Noel Freedman, The Unity of the Hebrew Bible (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1991) argues that the Primary History preceded Herodotus by about a century.