On “Historical Literary Character” Studies

Suppose a work of narrative literature records a character acting in a wider historical context without any direct fantastic elements occurring in that wider historical context. Examples may include the First Book of the Maccabees, the Sherlock Holmes stories, the Taylor Prism, Catch 22, the Kurkh Monolith, The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, Romeo and Juliet, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The Hunger Games. The first question one may want to ask is:

How did the text’s author understand it? Did he understand it as a propaganda piece? A work of entertainment? A revelation of hidden knowledge?

-This question must be answered definitely before attempting to use a text as a historical source.

What did the author use to compile his/her narrative?

Even if the author meant his work to be a piece of history/biography,

However, some types of scholars, most notably biblical ones, sometimes forget the above questions to immediately begin asking

Thus, we had the monstrosities of Historical Solomon and Historical Jesus studies.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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