Growth Of The Literature

The bulk of the Hebrew Bible was composed between the early days of the monarchy (tenth century BCE) and the period of Persian dominance (fifth century BCE). Most of the books we now have are the result of a long process of reworking and rewriting, in which editors introduced new material, either composed for the purpose or taken from existing documents. Hardly any of the major books of the Bible seems to derive from a single author in the modern sense, and the few that may do so (e.g. Jonah, Ruth) are generally from a somewhat later time, perhaps the Hellenistic age (fourth century and later). For theology, this aspect of the way the national literature of Israel was formed raises questions about inspiration, revelation, and authority, and also about the relation of religious content to literary form (Barr 1983). Six broad types of literature will be examined: narrative, law, wisdom, poetry, prophecy and psalmody.

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