The academic study of the Hebrew Bible encompasses thousands of scholars from around the world. These scholars use various methods developed by other disciplines in order to study ancient texts along with other approaches that are distinctive to the biblical studies.
Biblical scholars have recently divided the profession into three paradigms which are commonly referred to as the three worlds. Particularly, some scholars focus on the world within the text; others explore the world in front of the text; and others focus on the world behind the text.
Firstly, scholars who look at the world behind the text are concerned with understanding the world in which the Bible arose. Particularly, scholars specializing in this field seek to determine why the texts were written, what kind of source materials the authors may have used when preparing their text, and how these materials may have been edited in order for the community to integrate them into their own culture. These questions are ultimately problematic as there is a shortage of external evidence to disprove of conform their conclusions. As a result, this field is highly theoretical as new theories continue to arise. Additionally, scholars in this paradigm focus on the archeological and epigraphical evidence to understand if the events in the Hebrew Bible accurately narrate the historical record. Specifically, archeologists conduct excavations in order to uncover records from Israel so that the data may be studied by historians, while other archeologists incorporate literary records with the archaeological data to reconstruct the period in which the biblical narratives took place. This process is long and tedious as most data may be difficult to relate to literary materials. Also due to the religious nature of the Biblical narrative, studying supernatural events may prove to be ineffective using traditional methods.
To better understand the world within the text, scholars tend to divide the Hebrew Bible into fragments depending on their content. From these fragmentary sources, scholars are able to understand the text and reconstruct the history and society of ancient Israel. The Hebrew Bible was written to be read as a coherent literary work, that the majority of the literature within the Hebrew Bible was preserved because the culture that it was important. Through this notion, some scholars believe that it is possible to conclude a specific meaning that the author intended when writing the narrative. While others may conclude that it would be extremely difficult to determine the meaning as numerous individuals have edited the works of the Hebrew Bible and the intended meaning could have been lost in its revisions. Nevertheless, scholars in this paradigm categorize a narrative based on the methods of contemporary literature by examining the plot, characters, and any symbolism used through the author’s perspective. This allows the scholar to investigate how the narrative appeals...