The Ancient Historiography Seminar / Groupe de Travail sur l'Historiographie Ancienne is a professional, academic working group of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies / Société canadienne des Études bibliques (CSBS/SCÉB).

For a period of six years the seminar met as part of the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, as part of the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities (further information at http://www.fedcan.ca). The schedule and papers from 2011, 2010 and 2009 may be found here, while the papers from the 2006, 2007, and 2008 meetings may be found here.

Book Announcements

Over the course of the six years, a total of four volumes will be published. Two volumes (from 2006 and 2007) have already been published and two more (from 2008 and 2010) are in preparation.

The volume from the Saskatoon 2007 meetings is now published. The volume, Community Identity in Judean Historiography: Biblical and Comparative Perspectives (Gary N. Knoppers and Kenneth Ristau, eds.; Eisenbrauns, 2009), contains essays by Gary Knoppers, Ehud Ben Zvi, Mark Boda, Kenton Sparks, John Van Seters, among others.

The volume deals with issues of self-identification, community identity, and ethnicity in Judahite and Yehudite historiography. The chapters address a range of issues, such as the understanding, presentation, and delimitation of "Israel" in various biblical texts, the relationship of Israelites to Judahites in Judean historical writings, the definition of Israel over against other peoples, and the possible reasons why the ethno-religious community ("Israel") was the focus of Judahite/Yehudite historiography. These matters are approached from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary vantage points. For example, some pursued an inner-biblical perspective (pentateuchal sources/writings, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah), while others pursued a cross-cultural comparative perspective (ancient Near Eastern, ancient Greek, Hellenistic historiographies, Western and non-Western historiographic traditions). Still others attempted to relate the material remains to the question of community identity in northern Israel, monarchic Judah, and postmonarchic Yehud. Order today from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Eisenbrauns.com


Function of Ancient Historiography Based on the York 2006 meeting, The Function of Ancient Historiography in Biblical and Cognate Studies (Patricia G. Kirkpatrick and Timothy D. Goltz, eds.; Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, T & T Clark International, 2008), contains essays by John Van Seters, Kurt Noll, Eve-Marie Becker, among others.

This book provides fresh perspectives from new scholars while engaging lingering questions from seasoned ones, and the function of historiography in biblical literature continues to be an issue of wide disagreement among biblical scholars but an emerging consensus considers it to serve primarily an interpretive function. Such a function(s) are discussed vis-à-vis J. Huizinga's broad, theoretical definition of historiography as "the intellectual form in which a civilization renders account to itself of its past." Based on the latter, issues of historicity tend to be downplayed as the central focus; given the assumption that these are modern scholarly concerns. Thus, socio-historical intent (ideology) tends to be given priority, seeking to understand these writings on their own terms. This shift in focus is a key feature of the volume. Purchase from Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Eisenbrauns.com


The purpose of the Ancient Historiography Seminar is to advance the study of ancient historiography within the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies and the broader biblical studies and ancient Near Eastern studies communities. This encompasses issues relating to the form and function of ancient historiographic texts, comparative historiography of the ancient world, methodological problems related to employing ancient historiographic texts for modern historical reconstruction, as well as various themes and tropes in biblical and cognate historography. While certainly not limited to biblical texts, the Seminar will bring comparative material to bear on the understanding of the historiographic texts of the Bible.

This website allows the Seminar group to communicate with each other and with the broader academic community. It will also serve as a means to disseminate information about the Seminar and resources for the study of historiographic writings of the ancient Near Eastern world. For more information on the seminar go to the seminar info page. For the schedule for current and past meetings, including abstracts and seminar papers, as well as a list of prospective seminar topics for upcoming years see the sessions & papers page.

For questions regarding the Seminar please contact Tyler Williams (email: tyler.williams [at] kingsu [dot] ca).