The historical books of the Bible are a continuation of the history of the Pentateuch.
They include: Joshua; Judges; Ruth; 1 and 2 Samuel; 1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles; Ezra; Nehemiah; Tobit; Judith; Esther; and 1 and 2 Maccabees. Protestant Bibles removed Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees during the Reformation. Note that the "divisions" of the Bible into Pentateuch, Historical books, Prophets, etc. can be different according to different scholars/schools of thought.
Joshua, Judges, Samuel(s), & King(s) are often called "The Deuteronomistic History." In an earlier form, these books were published together with Deuteronomy as their introduction. The "final" edition of these books certainly dates from the post exilic period, but much of it may have been in written form before then. Sources mentioned throughout the books indicate that there was a body of historical writing that these authors drew upon. These books not only attempt to inform of historic events, but also inserts speeches/essays of theology. The Deuteronomistic History tells of Israel's history, but leaves its future a bit vague.
Ruth is, quite simply, a short story of ordinary people. The artistic telling of this story is meant to inform and provide models of living faithfully even during times of difficulty.
"The Chronicles and Later Histories" includes 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Chronicles start with a list of genealogies starting with Adam and going to Saul. In contrast with the Deuteronomistic History, the Chronicles try to visualize for us a clearer form of Israel's future. It shows continuity between Israel's past and their coming future. It makes a larger effort not just to relay events of the past, but to interpret them. Ezra and Nehemiah are narrative accounts of the post exilic period, showing the restoration of Judah following the exile of Babylon.
Tobit is often described as a "religious novel." The purpose of the story is to show that God controls events and circumstances in order for His own purposes.
Judith and Esther are, bluntly, hard to classify at all. Both have multiple historical errors, but are kept for their attempts to show how God will rescue Israel.
Finally, 1 2 Maccabees cover the period of the second century B.C. It provides details from the period after the histories but before the Gospels.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong