This collection of essays seeks to demonstrate that many biblical authors deliberately used Classical and Hellenistic Greek texts for inspiration when crafting many of the narratives in the Primary History.
Through detailed analysis of the text, Gnuse contends that there are numerous examples of clear influence from late classical and Hellenistic literature. Deconstructing the biblical and Greek works in parallel, he argues that there are too many similarities in basic theme, meaning, and detail, for them to be accounted for by coincidence or shared ancient tropes. Using this evidence, he suggests that although much of the text may originate from the Persian period, large parts of its final form likely date from the Hellenistic era.
With the help of an original introduction and final chapter, Gnuse pulls his essays together into a coherent collection for the first time. The resultant volume offers a valuable resource for anyone working on the dating of the Hebrew Bible, as well as those working on Hellenism in the ancient Levant more broadly.
Table of Contents
Introduction: An Intellectual Odyssey 1. A Hellenistic First Testament: The Views of Minimalist Scholars 2. Spilt Water: Tales of David in II Sam 23:13-17 and of Alexander the Great in Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 6.26.1-3 3. Abducted Wives: A Hellenistic Narrative in the Book of Judges? 4. From Prison to Prestige: The Hero who helps a King in Jewish and Greek Literature 5. Divine Messengers in Genesis 18-19 and Ovid 6. Greek Connections: Genesis 1-11 and the Poetry of Hesiod 7. Genesis 1-11 and the Greek Historiographers Hecataeus of Miletus and Herodotus of Halicarnassus 8. Heed Your Steeds: Achilles’ Horses and Balaam’s Donkey 9. Samson and Heracles Revisited 10. The Sacrificed Maiden: Iphigenia and Jephthah’s Daughter 11. The Maximalist/Minimalist Debate over Historical Memory in the Primary History of the Old Testament
Robert Karl Gnuse is the James C. Carter, S.J./Chase Bank Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Loyola University in New Orleans, where he has taught since 1980. His degrees are from Vanderbilt University (Ph.D., 1980; M.A., 1978) and Christ Seminary in St. Louis (S.T.M., 1975; M.Div., 1974). He is author of 18 books, most recently The Elohist (2017) and Trajectories of Justice (2015).
"Let it be said from the start that this book is great: it is dedicated to fighting for its cause and yet it is full of prudence and restraint.[...]I found Gnuse’s book very engaging in that his tone is always prudent and circumspect, his arguments well founded or, if not, not forced upon the reader. I also found the thematic and narrative comparisons always detailed and the device of the ‘implied transmission channel’ interesting so as to open our minds to cultural familiarity. All this should invite biblical scholars to accept dialogue and reflect further upon history and methodology."
-Stéphanie Anthonioz, Histos