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Nebuchadnezzar and Narrative Repair in the Court Tales of Daniel

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame6111Notre Dame, INUSA
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Abstract

During the second half of the first millennium BCE, innovative portrayals of Nebuchadnezzar began to emerge within Jewish circles that reshaped and reimagined his role in their history. Such reconstruals were part and parcel of the lively negotiations among Babylonian and Hellenistic scribes over the representation of bygone Mesopotamian monarchs. In this essay, I examine the reimagination of Nebuchadnezzar in the court tales of Dan 2–6 as a unique example of how scribes sought to reshape the haunting memory of Nebuchadnezzar. By comparing Nebuchadnezzar’s narrative portrait with various texts from Jewish prophetic traditions, I argue that the redactor of the court tales constructed a counter-memory of Nebuchadnezzar in which the traumatic experience of Judah’s humiliation, deportation, and restoration was creatively mapped onto Nebuchadnezzar. In order to construct this counter-memory, the redactor drew upon and repurposed specific language, imagery, and motifs borrowed from these textual traditions.

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