Author: ZHANG Zhaoyang, Ph. D. Candidate, School of Humanities, Zhejiang University
From the eighteenth century onwards, historical criticism gradually became popular in biblical studies. Scholars affected by this trend of thought no longer regarded events in the Bible as literal historic events, but looked for corroboratory historical evidence for biblical stories outside of the Bible. Conservative scholars regarded supernatural events in the Bible as history, while liberal scholars regarded them as a form of the imaginary, which let to a split in biblical studies between history and fiction adherents. Hans Frei tried to break away from the influence of positivistic methodology and focus on the narrative itself, but he did not fully consider the correlation between the significance of the biblical text and its historical referents. In his three-volume work Time and Narrative, Paul Ricoeur suggested that the opposition between history and fiction in modern and contemporary biblical studies could be mitigated by interweaving history and fiction. Although Ricoeur put forward these ideas as a means of discussing the dialectical relationships between time and narrative, he did not apply the idea to biblical research. This paper draws on Ricoeur’s ideas to reconsider the relations between narrative meaning and historical reference in biblical narratives.
Paul Ricoeur, biblical narrative, history, fiction, historical criticism
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