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Hebrew Deuteronomistic and Early Chinese Confucian Historiography: A Comparative Approach

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Judged from typological perspective, both Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings 1 and 2 from the Bible and Zuo Zhuan 左传 (The Commentary of Zuo) are parallels in historical and literary development, even without any direct or indirect contact between approximately 1050–586 BCE in ancient Israel and Judah, and the Chunqiu Period (722–481 BCE) in China. They are two of the three oldest “narrative histories” (the Hebrew Deuteronomistic written in the 6th cent. BCE, The Histories in the 5th cent. BCE, and Zuo Zhuan from the 4th cent. BCE). This paper analyzes these two “histories” from the similar and different “sacred continua” in Israel, Judah and China; and also from the “divine kingship,” the “mandate of Heaven,” “theocracy,” the concept of God among ancient Hebrews and the concurrent concept of Shangdi 上帝, Di 帝 or Tian 天 and ethical principles among the Chinese. These works are “narrative histories,” both are vivid, detailed, written in an extremely dense, but also rhetorical style. They all used divination, dream interpretation, persuasive speeches and descriptions of wars. Both are didactic, not always following “historical truth.” They are works of great historical and literary value.


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