Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE - Diana V. Edelman

Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE - Diana V. Edelman

Memory and Political Thought in Late Persian/Early Hellenistic Yehud/Judah: Some Observations

Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE - Diana V. Edelman

Ehud Ben Zvi [+-]
History and Classics - University of Alberta
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Ehud Ben Zvi’s interests include ancient Israelite history and historiography, social memory in ancient Israel, the latter's intellectual history, and the prophetic and historiographical books that eventually became part of the Hebrew Bible. He has worked mainly in the Persian/early Hellenistic period.

Description

Political thought involving negotiating the various strengths and weaknesses of various political regimes was alive and well in this period, at least, among the literati, despite and perhaps even more because of the lack of an “independent” polity. To be sure, they did not carry out this endeavor through "treatises" but primarily through narratives and particularly narratives that shaped their overall social memory. Narrative memory became a kind of playground in which different political structures could and did demonstrate, from their viewpoint, their relative strengths and weaknesses. There were social mnemonic constrains within that playground. For instance, the Davidic/Solomonic time had to be (at least partially) lionized, because it was associated with the building of the temple. The monarchic period as a whole had to be vilified to explain the catastrophe of 586. The centrality of the divine instruction—as understood by the literati—had to be maintained since after all, this was a community that construed itself as a text-centered group. Necessary mechanisms to contain what was seen as a normal tendency for society and people to go astray over time (i.e., "social entropy") had to be constantly entertained, and memories of an utopian future to come, not only of the problematic past, had to play central roles too. At the same time, constrains were always negotiated and often had to inform and balance each other. This essay discusses ways in which studying the memories of the past and future held by the community contribute to our understanding of their political thought and leads to the conclusion that these memories suggest the addition of a complementary category for understanding the political thought of the community, that of what we may call, "guardianship."

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Citation

Ben Zvi, Ehud. Memory and Political Thought in Late Persian/Early Hellenistic Yehud/Judah: Some Observations. Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 9-26 Dec 2016. ISBN 9781781792698. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26803. Date accessed: 19 Sep 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26803. Dec 2016

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