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Looking On the Bright Side of Israel's History

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The Preface of John Bright's popular textbook, A History of Israel, states that Bright targeted the "undergraduate theological student." Although presented as an academic history textbook, the content of the book amounts to a theology of the Protestant Old Testament, written in accord with a popular Protestant movement of the mid-twentieth century. This study examines Bright's motives for composing his History as discerned from unpublished letters of the period, and as discerned from a rhetorical evaluation of the textbook. Apparently, Bright did not consider himself a historian; rather, he thought himself to be a theologian who theologizes about history. Critical evaluation of Bright's effort concludes that Bright misconstrued the role of the historian precisely because he viewed that role through the eyes of a theologian. Nevertheless, he models an approach to the presentation of history that is valuable for future writers of textbooks targeted at theology students.

Affiliations: 1: Greencastle, Pennsylvania


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