• Otherness and Historiography in Chronicles

    Christine Mitchell (see profile)
    Hebrew bible, Ancient Near East, Chronicles
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    The very fi rst work of “history” penned in the Western tradition begins its fi rst paragraph with setting the context of the work as the confl ict between Greek and Persian. Herodotus of Halicarnassus, an Ionian Greek from the fringes of the Persian Empire, constructed his historie as an account of the formation of Greek identity in relation to the Other. This tendency may also be found in the annals and royal inscriptions of the ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and eastern Mediterranean cultures that preceded the creation of historiography in the Persian period. We may also fi nd this tendency in the biblical narratives of Kings and Ezra- Nehemiah. The book of Chronicles, however, has not been investigated from this perspective. Previous generations of scholarship were apt to see the Other in Chronicles as Samaritans, but this construction was based on the assumed common authorship of Chronicles and Ezra- Nehemiah. In this essay I will explore another possibility for the Other against whom Israel is constructed in Chronicles. One possibility that I raise further in the conclusion is that Chronicles is not a work of historiography at all, or, if it is, it is a radical innovation in the fundamental rules of the genre as understood in antiquity.
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