From its inception at the time of the Enlightenment until the mid-twentieth century, the historical-critical method constituted the dominant paradigm in Old Testament studies. In this magisterial overview, Niels Peter Lemche surveys the development of the historical-critical method and the way it changed the scholarly perception of the Old Testament. In part 1 he describes the rise and influence of historical-critical approaches, while in part 2 he traces their decline and fall. Then, in part 3, he discusses the identity of the authors of the Old Testament, based on the content of the literature they wrote, demonstrating that the collapse of history does not preclude critical study. Part 4 investigates the theological consequences of this collapse and surveys Old Testament and biblical theology in its various manifestations in the twentieth century. An appendix includes a history of Palestine from the Stone Age to modern times, constructed without recourse to the Old Testament.
Niels Peter Lemche is Professor at the Department for Biblical Exegesis, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.