Scholars are increasingly aware of the dynamic nature of the interaction between the nine-chapter-long genealogy that begins the book of Chronicles and its source material. However, little attention has been paid to the role this interaction might have played in the creation of some key biblical ideas, particularly in the “eponymous imagination” of the tribes as literally the sons of Jacob. Through comparison with scholarly approaches to the pseudo-Hesiodic Catalogue of Women and an investigation into the ramifications for biblical studies of ethnic theory and historical memory on the fluidity of ethnicity and memory over time, this article seeks to reassess the dynamic power of the Chronicles genealogy as an ethnic charter for the elites of Persian Yehud. Focus on the distinctive imagination of Israel in the crucial narratives in the book of Genesis, as compared with narratives elsewhere in the primary history, and the contributions of the Chronicles genealogy to their redefinition, allows us to address the Bible’s dependence upon the lens the Chronicles genealogy imposes upon it.
The fact that an unusual number of supernatural events occur at threshing floors in biblical literature has long been a subject of scholarly interest but seldom of comprehensive inquiry. This has recently changed with a publication arguing that the complex of threshing floor phenomena is explained by biblical conceptions of the relationship between YHWH and the site. In this article I will argue instead that it is the nature of the floor itself and its varied uses on multiple levels of society which created associations and layers of meaning that explain the association of threshing floors with decision and communication. The Yahwistic explanation for these associations favored by biblical authors is a response originating in a biased source, rather than a statement of a universal reality.
Burton Mack’s 1996 article “On Redescribing Christian Origins” was a classic of the discipline. In my view, one of its most enduring contributions is its recognition that the centrality of the New Testament’s view of Christian Origins survives despite a growing recognition that, technically, it ought to be sidelined – that it is protected by a “ring of fire.” Further, he argued that the perseverance of this centrality was a major factor inhibiting the influence of New Testament studies on other disciplines. In this essay, I argue that the centrality of the Hebrew Bible’s vision of Israelite origins as a starting point for contemporary debates, even among those who regard it as a fiction, is characterized by a similar avoidance of certain necessary recognitions and is inhibiting to a similar degree.
The “Primary History” is the scholarly term for the biblical narrative spanning Genesis through Kings, created largely through the combination of pre-existing texts and traditions. This narrative has played a central role in scholarly reconstructions of the history of Israelite and Judahite traditions more generally because it is often possible to recover these pre-biblical traditions apparently intact. However, the recovery of pre-biblical traditions is a more complicated problem than typical approaches—which focus on the reconstruction of original texts—allow. Scholars also need to consider how the combination and arrangement of traditions has altered our perception of them, even when we can recover their original form. This article employs contemporary theoretical approaches to museum exhibits in order to explore how the combination and presentation of artifacts reshapes what they seem to mean, without physically altering them, and applies those lessons to the study of reconstructed pre-biblical texts.
This article weighs in on new debates about the affiliation of the tribe of Benjamin between Israel and Judah in the early monarchy. It points to two underappreciated aspects of the Hebrew Bible’s account of tribal realities in the books of Kings: the anonymity of the ten tribes attributed to Israel in 1 Kgs 11–12, and how unusual the absence of a complete and detailed account of tribal arrangements in Kings is in the context of a Primary History as a whole. It argues that both of these realities reflect a deliberate effort to obscure Benjamin’s northern origins and that, in fact, it is impossible to come up with a plausible list of ten Israelite tribes without Benjamin.