3. The Old Testament and History
Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
Almost always, ‘the Bible as history’ is used to mean ‘what the Bible says really happened’. But before comparing Old Testament histories and modern histories, it is vital to bear in mind that ‘history’ can mean three things: the past, a story about the past, or the study of the past (the latter, ‘History’ with a capital H). The first of these is a popular but misleading usage: history is not ‘the past’ but rather a story about the past. No history can represent all of the past, but only excerpts within the past: periods, nations, areas or institutions. What histories do is focus on a piece of the past, but also make it meaningful by creating a narrative from it. ‘History’ is story.