Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World - John Baines

Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World - John Baines

16. Using the Past in the Hebrew Bible: The Fantastic, Memory Techniques and 'History' in the Exodus Narrative

Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World - John Baines

Laura Feldt [+-]
University of Southern Denmark
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Laura Feldt is Associate Professor of the Study of Religions with the Department of History, University of Southern Denmark, head of the research programme ‘Authority, Materiality and Media’, and editor of Numen – International Review of the History of Religions with Gregory D. Alles. She is the author of The Fantastic in Religious Narrative from Exodus to Elisha (2012), editor of Wilderness in Mythology and Religion – Approaching Religious Spatialities, Cosmologies, and Ideas of Wild Nature (2012) and Reframing Authority – The Role of Media and Materiality (2018) with Christian Høgel. Her primary research areas are religion in ancient Mesopotamia, the Hebrew Bible, and ancient Christianity.

Description

This chapter analyses a primary kind of text about the ‘past’ which looms large in the Hebrew Bible world: the story of the Exodus. The Exodus narrative has been fundamental to questions of history in the Hebrew Bible and biblical scholarship, yet the pursuit of ‘history’ has been obstructed by the many fantastic nd clearly ‘unhistorical’ elements in the story. Thus, the narrative of the Exodus occupies an ambiguous position between myth and history in modern scholarship; at the same time this text is centrally concerned with the past and with how to maintain memory of it in the text’s recipients. This chapter contributes to investigating the uses of the past in the Hebrew Bible, analysing how the people’s past is mediated in narration in Exodus 1–18 by mixing ‘realistic’ historical narration with fantastic elements, as well as discussing the effects and functions of this mode of presentation. The autor then analyses the media of remembrance of the past presented within the text—memory techniques and ritual practices that stipulate how the story of the people’s past should be remembered by the members of the people of Israel. The argument draws on narratological/literary theory, as well as perspectives from cultural memory and media theory, discussing media of historical consciousness in the ancient world by investigating the presentation of the past, the understanding of the past, and ideas of how and why to remember the past, in this central text of the Hebrew Bible.

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Citation

Feldt, Laura. 16. Using the Past in the Hebrew Bible: The Fantastic, Memory Techniques and 'History' in the Exodus Narrative. Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 239-254 Jun 2019. ISBN 9781781796566. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=33732. Date accessed: 21 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.33732. Jun 2019

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