In Prelude to Israel's Past, Lemche examines the nature and function of Old Testament historical narrative. Is the biblical narrative a reliable source of historical knowledge? Or does it have a literary and theological life of its own - proclaiming a truth that cannot be contested because it recounts "events" that happened once upon a time? Lemche explores these questions from two directions. First, he analyzes the biblical narratives from Abraham to Moses and demonstrates that these narratives are literature, not documents written by professional historians. Second, he compares the biblical portrait of the patriarchs with what we know about this period from other ancient sources. He urges that the Bible continues to guide and console a believing people not because it is a historically accurate record of past events but because its living stories recount a truth unfettered by time and culture.
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