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Revisiting the historiography of Luke: 2 Maccabees, Luke and the Jewish-Hellenistic historical fiction monograph

Hine, Gary (2015) Revisiting the historiography of Luke: 2 Maccabees, Luke and the Jewish-Hellenistic historical fiction monograph. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The present dissertation contends that the Gospel of Luke and 2 Maccabees stand at the junction of Biblical historical narratives and Greco-Roman historiography. A literary product of this generic intersection was the emergence of the Jewish-Hellenistic historical fiction monograph which may be defined as:

A short historiographic narrative that exists in a separate volume, covers a limited chronological period and restricted geographical area, and has a consistent focus on one theme and person. It professes to be historiography and is often received as such. It centers on real historical subjects and endeavours to recount the reality of the past even if this includes historical errors, chronological manipulations, and supernatural causality.

It proposes that Luke qualifies as an ancient historiographic narrative and exhibits generic aspects and methodologies characteristic of the Jewish-Hellenistic historical fiction monograph, particularly as might also be observed in 2 Maccabees. The thesis does not seek to argue that Luke depends on Second Maccabees, nor that it derives its generic structure and historiographical nature from the Maccabean narrative. What it suggests is that when viewed from the perspective that literary genres are fluid rather than fixed and often proceed from a prototype towards similar although divergent types, together with the recognition that ancient historiography was in practice flexible with regards to historic veracity, both Luke and Second Maccabees share generic and historiographic similarities and may be treated as historiography.

The authors of Luke and 2 Maccabees imagined they were writing history. This is evident through their prologues and in their use of ancient historiographic methodology. Both authors sought to position their narratives in a recent historic context with a focus on a specific individual. However, in the shaping of their narratives to conform to a particular ideology they made errors in historic details, manipulated earlier sources, and relied on supernatural causality to explain events. This shaping blurred the boundaries between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’. It is proposed that such historiographic methodology and shaping conforms to the characteristics of the Jewish-Hellenistic historical fiction monograph and that Luke and 2 Maccabees stand side-by-side in this tradition.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Dunnill, John, Loader, William and Hultin, Jeremy
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