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Part I What is the author’s evaluation of the Bible as a historical text? Do you agree or disagree? Why? I agree with the author’s statement that Bible presents great historical value because this document analyzes the sequence of events, including religious customs and traditions that took place long before Jesus was born and that illustrates how modern society and its values were formed. The author argues that even though Old Testament is not completely accurate in the sense of omitting some of the historical events and providing erroneous facts, it still serves as a very reliable historical guide because it shows the progress and development of the society and the progress of such concepts as free will, humanity, and choice. This brings us face to face with the whole matter of the reality of the texts for the Hebrews. They lived in contact with two worlds and they were completely assured of the reality of both. There was this material world in which they lived and which was a creation of Jehovah. There was the world of spirits, separated from the material world by a shell as to the nature of which they apparently did not speculate.
They seem to have been afraid of speculation about it, lest it should lead them back into the heathen mythology from which Jehovah had delivered them. This will be dealt with at length under the relation of the Hebrews to the unknown. But they were very sure that this shell between the two worlds was constantly being broken through from the spirit side, and that in ways which were partly legitimate and partly illegitimate. The legitimacy consisted in the method of contact being approved by Jehovah and carried out in His name. It was then licit; otherwise it was illicit. For just as this world was the abode of a race of rational beings, the Sons of Adam, so the spirit world was the abode of another race of rational beings, called the Sons of God, or of Elohim. But Jehovah controlled them all and they all stood in His presence. The result of this is a curiously, for us, mixed and contradictory picture of that Unseen World. The masses of the Hebrews, if we may judge from the narratives in Samuel and Kings, do not seem to have had difficulty with it.
Part II What is the relationship between history and story? How, then, does the author argue that historians should handle the accounts of divine intervention? Millard A. R. presents the argument on whether Bible should be regarded as the historical document or merely as a story. The author draws upon the issue by referring to the views of James Barr who advocated the theory of Bible telling a story rather than the history. On the one hand, Millard states, there are many factors that contribute to the fact that Bible is more of a story than history. On the other hand there is a big difference between the realizations of the events as ancient writers saw them and how modern scholars perceive these happenings. For example, the matter of divine intervention is one of such stepping stones. Another difficulty lies in the fact that the history of the Bible is not known, and especially that the Bible itself has not been given a proper opportunity to tell its own story of how it came into existence, of how it came to be the Bible.
There has been too much effort on the part of teachers to talk about the Bible rather than to let the Bible talk for itself; there has been far too much enterprise in preparing theories into which to fit the Bible, and far too little endeavor to gather the facts in the Bible which show its growth, and then let the explanation of the Bible come out of the facts. At the same time, the significance of this for the literary history of the people and the growth of the Bible deserves to be well considered, especially in its relation to other data. Part III Explain the significance of the Bible to the study of the history Bible is the history in itself. What is the impression received from the reading of the Bible? Does it provide adjoining ideas of a single narrative, or are they two expressions of two similar ideas? Is the first a summary of the account which it closes, the second a forecast of the history which it serves to introduce? Probably most readers will incline to the second alternative, feeling that we are in the presence of the ending of one work and the beginning of another.
This impression is likely to be strengthened if one turns to the close of Leviticus, following it with the opening of Numbers, and then in like manner to Exodus-Leviticus and to Genesis-Exodus. He will find at the close of Leviticus, to be sure, a summary, but it is not followed by one in the first verse of Numbers, and it may have been merely a summary in the midst of a narrative. The divisions between Genesis and Exodus and between Exodus and Leviticus seem quite arbitrary, breaking up the continuity of the account in Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus as a whole. Among these other data is the fact that Bible contains much material in addition to the legislative center inherited from Moses and the poetic thought received from him and other singers. Bible contains an outline of the history of the world from the beginning of time, and this outline history, as we have observed, is composed in various instances of duplicate accounts woven together, thus making Bible one of the most credible historical sources in the world.