Friday, November 22, 2013
What's the point?
J. Glassner says that the accuracy of chronological material in Mesopotamian royal inscriptions “did not matter much” to the ancient historian. Rather, the point was that chronologies, inaccurate as they may have been, put things in proper perspective for author and audience. That is, the historian’s interpretation and, in a sense, “use” of the past lent credibility and meaning to a present reality, and that was its purpose. This was its significance. We may not dismiss or exclude those historical accounts that are (by our standards) inaccurate, for that is to miss the point of ancient Near Eastern history writing entirely. Neither may we dismiss ancient history that speaks of the world of the gods and their involvement in human affairs, for this too misses the point.— Toward a Poetics of Genesis 1-11, page 41