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Retracing a Remembered Past

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Methodological Remarks on Memory, History, and the Hebrew Bible

image of Biblical Interpretation

Historians of the southern Levant have increasingly made recourse to the concept of memory as an analytical tool to examine the past recounted within the Hebrew Bible. The intent of this article is to review current approaches toward memory among these historians in order to consider certain theoretical questions raised within this research. Most significant of these will be concerns related to the epistemological relationship that obtains between those ancient, literary memories outlined within these investigations and that past reconstructed through the techniques of modern historical inquiry. The epistemological differences perceived between the past claimed by memory and history leads to the contention that historians charged with interpreting the referential claims of ancient texts informed by a community’s shared memories must do so through a hermeneutical framework that is sensitive to memory’s distinct epistemological underpinnings. This study then concludes by advocating for a post-positivist interpretive approach that situates the referential claims of a remembered past alongside a constellation of ancient referents, textual and material, that attest to the place and time being recollected in order to trace out the semblances and dissimilarities that emerge.

Affiliations: 1: Georgia Southern University, USA


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