Chapter 2 The problem of the historicity of the Gospel material
Numerous factors contribute to the complexity of the problem of the historicity of the Gospel material. Some of them are related to the particular literary char- acter of the Gospel texts, which, as was demonstrated above, generally refer to other texts rather than to historical facts. Other factors are related to the present state of research on the historicity of the Gospel material, research which is highly conditioned by its hidden assumptions, traditionally used methods, widely accepted results, etc. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of these fac- tors is necessary for settling the issue of the historicity of the Gospel material. 2.1 The Old Testament background The so-called ‘historical books’ of the Old Testament were for centuries re- garded as describing the real history of the Jewish people. In modern times, this traditional conviction was severely shaken, but nevertheless even critical schol- ars were inclined to believe in the historicity of at least the basic elements of the history of the chosen people, as it had been presented in the Pentateuch and in the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehe- miah.1 The most recent research on the use of the procedure of sequential hyper- textual reworking of earlier texts in later texts of the Old Testament has revealed that the so-called ‘historical books’ of the Old Testament primarily refer to other texts2 rather than to historical facts. Moreover, even when they refer to historical facts, they often heavily distort them in order to illustrate or demonstrate...
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