The Biblical Texts and Their Background
The biblical writings were created over a wide expanse of time. That broad historical and cultural canvas is one important cause for the Bible's rich diversity. In this Study Bible, the Reading Guides provided for each biblical book, and the introductions provided in the notes to the biblical text itself, offer specific information about the historical background of the individual books of the Bible. A clear and succinct historical summary is provided in the article “Biblical History and Archaeology” ( RG 30–53 ). The following paragraphs sketch the relationship of the biblical books to that evolving history.
The accounts of creation and the stories about the first ancestors of the human family, such as the tragic rivalry between Cain and Abel and the story of Noah and the flood, obviously do not have the same historical grounding that later traditions could. These stories answer the question about the origin of humanity and its plight in history. Firm historical traditions begin only with the forging of Israel into an identifiable people, an event that did not begin until probably around 1250 BC. Traditions about the earlier patriarchal period starting around 1850 BC are much less certain historically, and even events from the time of Israel's sojourn in Egypt and during the period of the Exodus and early settlement in the land are sketchy since there were few means of preserving historical archives.