The Historical Literature


Rev. Assoc. Prof. Mark O'Brien OP
Semester 2, 2020
Tuesday 2.00pm – 5.00pm

This unit is based on an examination of the ‘Former Prophets’ or ‘Historical Books’ (Joshua – 2 Kings) as a key representative of historiography in the Old Testament. It will involve a consideration of the hypothesis of a Deuteronomistic History, identified in Deuteronomy – 2 Kings. The other key representative of Old Testament historiography (1 and 2 Chronicles) will also be examined, especially where it parallels texts in the Former Prophets. The unit will consider Israelite and Ancient Near Eastern notions of history and examine contemporary issues, problems and methods associated with the interpretation of such literature.

Census Date

Tuesday 18 August 


  • second level BS1001C and BS1002C or equivalent
  • third level two Biblical Studies units at second level


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


second level
  • one 1,000-word exegesis 20%
  • one 2,500-word essay 60%
  • one 1-hour written examination (1,000 words) 20%
third level
  • one 1,000-word exegesis 20%
  • one 3,000-word essay 60%
  • one 1-hour written examination (1,000 words) 20%

Set Text Recommended for Purchase

The New Revised Standard Version, e.g., New Oxford Annotated Bible or the HarperCollins Study Bible will be used in lectures.


  • Albertz, Rainer. A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period. Translated by John Bowden. 2 vols. London: SCM, 1994.
  • Campbell, Antony F. Joshua to Chronicles: An Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004.
  • Campbell, Antony F., and Mark O’Brien. Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History: Origins, Upgrades, Present Text. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.
  • Harvey, John E. Retelling the Torah: The Deuteronomistic Historian’s Use of Tetrateuchal Narratives. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 403. London: T. & T. Clark, 2004.
  • Japhet, Sara. 1 and 2 Chronicles: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. London: SCM, 1993.
  • Kalimi, Isaac. The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2004.
  • McKenzie, Steven L. Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading. Grand Rapids, MN: W. B. Eerdmans, 2010.
  • Rofé, Alexander. Deuteronomy: Issues and Interpretation. Old Testament Studies. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2002.
  • Römer, Thomas. The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical and Literary Introduction. London: T. & T. Clark, 2006.