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image of Vetus Testamentum

A scientific experiment of any significance, and particularly one that gives rise to broad generalisations, must be repeated by other scientists before its results can be considered confirmed. Lester Grabbe's "rough-and-ready" exercise comparing historical assertions in the Old Testament with parallel assertions from ancient Near Eastern sources is just such an experiment. The generalisations to which Grabbe is led are 1) that the biblical framework for Israelite and Judean kings from the mid-ninth century onwards is reasonably accurate, and 2) that the details of the biblical accounts are at times misleading, inaccurate, or even invented. The aim of the present essay is to test the second, more controversial of Grabbe's generalisations by repeating the comparative experiment. The result of closely scrutinising the pertinent biblical and aNE texts is to reverse Grabbe's second generalisation. This in turn raises the larger question of why interpreters working with the same evidence sometimes arrive at quite different conclusions.


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