If it is fair to say, with Robert Kawashima1 and Arnaldo Momigliano,2 that the very notions of history and universal history have their origins in biblical literature, it might be wise to insist on exploring the ways in which biblical narrative emplots and historicizes cultural memories, sources on hand, living traditions, personal and collective experiences, and future hopes.
It might also be important to try again to conceive of a history of the religion of Israel, a history of emergent Christianity and normative Judaism, insofar as they can be constructed from biblical, post-biblical, and non-biblical sources. Now is an inopportune time to walk away from the questions which have animated modern biblical studies from the beginning.
Passover and Easter allow further formulations. Beyond Hegel, beyond the Shoah, in light of the “unbearable lightness of being” (Milan Kundera), it is still possible to pose the question, with Emil Fackenheim, of “God’s presence in history.”3 The sense in which the following statement was meant to be true also remains of interest: “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and handled with our hands … we declare to you” (1 John 1:1-3).
A sense of history and historicity is as important today as it has ever been. A historical approach to the Bible adequate to its object might provide insight into the shape of life not only then and there, but here and now.