Scripture as History.
Recently April DeConick posted some excellent thoughts on 10 commandments or operating principles for engaging a text from the historical-critical method. Her post is well worth the time to read and ponder. Once of her points struck a chord with some of the things we've been wrestling with in Community of God, namely to what degree are certain texts communicating "history." Here's one thing she had to say:The text is not reporting history, it is reporting theology and it is using story to do so. This makes recovering history extremely difficult because all is not as it seems. We need to ask questions such as why is the author reporting his history and his theology this way? What other histories and theologies does the author know about? What traditions has the author received? How has the author shaped those traditions? Why has he shaped them in the manner that he has? Who has something to gain by this view of history and theology? Who has something to lose by this view of history and theology? What are the author's assumptions and how do these impact the author's narrative? How is the author's narrative related to other narratives? How is the author's narrative related to history? Etc.
Concerning the quote above, I tend to agree with James McGrath [see the comment section of her post] that certain texts may not be communicating what we would define as "history," as we have come to embrace it in our post-enlightenment mindset. As I've said before here, I think we need to temper our vision of "history" when we approach the text of the scriptures.
Read on: Here. I have to add these are good thoughts especially when dealing with inerrantists and bible literalists. And these are questions we must all ask as we seek the context of the text. Scripture is truly not history in our sense of the word history but rather the spiritual history of the people of God.