Archive for November 18th, 2011


I. Identifying Old Testament historical narrative

a. Old Testament historical narrative is a specific type of narrative.

i.      Some scholars might not see this as a distinct category while some do.

ii.      Historical narrative “is national and not familial or tribal[1]

iii.      Thus, historical narrative does not imply that regular narratives are somehow not historically factual.

iv.      Instead, Old Testament historical narrative focuses on the nation of Israel/Judah.

b. Historical narrative tend to be more of “a series of accounts…with cause-effect sequences given much weight than plot.”[2]

c. In historical narratives, God often speaks through the representatives of the kings or the prophets.[3]

d. Books that have many historical narrative within them:

i.      Joshua

ii.      1& 2 Samuel

iii.      1 & 2 Kings

iv.      1 & 2 Chronicles

II. General principles in interpreting Old Testament historical narratives

a. Since historical narratives are types of Old Testament narratives, the same principles of interpreting narratives apply here as well.[4]

b. Since historical narratives usually have built in cause and effect sequences, sometimes the narration in the text provides a commentary of God’s objective perspective concerning the matter.

i.      For example, consider Hezekiah, king of Judah in 2 Kings 18

1. He was right with the LORD (v.3, 5)

a. He did this by practicing righteousness (v.4, 6)

2. As a result, the LORD was with him (v.7)

a. He did not have to serve Assyria (v.7)

b. As an effect of this, he even defeated the Philistines (v.8)

ii.      Similarly, see 2 Kings 17:19-20 of God’s perspective given in the narration.

c. Since God often speaks through the prophets in historical narratives, pay attention to the recorded dialogues of the prophets, since they are God’s Word.

i.      2 Kings 17:9-18 mentions that God sends prophets to warn the people (v.13)

d. Consulting the Prophetic genre

i.      Sometimes the Prophetic books in the Bible are contemporary with the historical events recorded, and consulting them will provide context information that would help interpret the historical text.

ii.      At other times, prophets mentioned in the historical narrative have their own book written in the prophetic section of the Bible.

1. For instance, 2 Kings 20:1 talks about Isaiah, son of Amoz, whose prophecy is recorded in the book of Isaiah.

iii. The context of God’s relationship to His nation through their covenant relationship is an important lens in interpreting historical narratives.

i.      See 2 Kings 17:15

ii.      The blessings and curses of the Mosaic Covenant to Israel are conditional to her covenantal faithfulness

1. Leviticus 26

a. Examples of promised blessings (v.1-13)

i.      Raining season (v.4)

ii.      Land yield produce (v.4)

iii.      Live securely in the land (v.5)

iv.      Peace in the land (v.6)

b. Examples of curses (v.14-39)

i.      Enemies will rule over them (v.17)

ii.      Seven fold plagues (v.21)

iii.      Beasts of the fields destroying their children (v.22)

2. Deuteronomy 28

a. Examples of promised blessings (v.1-14)

i. Their enemies are defeated (v.7)

ii. All the nations will fear them (v.10)

iii. Good storehouses (v.12)

b. Examples of curses (v.15-68)

i. Pestilences (v. 21)

ii. Drought (v. 24)

iii. Scattered (v.64)

[1] Eugene H. Merrill, “History”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 91.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See Session Three outline.


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