Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd Edition

A Christian Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


10. Introduction to the Historical Books: The History of Israel's Nationhood

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Identify the purpose of each of the historical books
  • Explain how the Bible is more than a history book
  • Discuss the role of historicity for biblical faith
  • Evaluate the Noth-Cross approach to authorship of the historical books

Chapter Summary

  1. The historical books also have theological importance.
  2. Joshua shows the value of obedience.
  3. Judges tells of the near hopelessness of Israel after the conquest.
  4. Ruth illustrates God’s sovereign care for individuals who are faithful in spite of national religious apostasy.
  5. Samuel traces the early history of Israel’s monarchy.
  6. Kings tells about the history of the monarchy from Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem.
  7. Chronicles is the first commentary on the Scriptures.
  8. Ezra and Nehemiah present the history of the restoration in the fifth century BC.
  9. Esther demonstrates how God’s sovereign care and protection extend to his people.
  10. The history of Israel contrasts with the mythological approach found in the rest of the ancient Near East.
  11. The authorship of all of the historical books is anonymous.
  12. One popular theory of the authorship of the historical books is that an anonymous editor combined several sections into one lengthy document of Israel’s history.

Study Questions

  1. Approximately how much time is covered by the historical books?
  2. What is the theological value of the historical books?
  3. Briefly summarize the major theme of each of the historical books.
  4. How did the Israelites view the concept of history?
  5. What is the main concern of biblical prophecy as portrayed in the historical books?
  6. Why are the historical books referred to as the “Former Prophets” in the Jewish canon?
  7. From what perspective are historical events recorded in this section of the Bible?
  8. How are historical facts important to the theology of the historical books?
  9. Discuss the authorship of the historical books.
  10. Explain the Deuteronomistic History and its ramifications for the historical books.