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  • Author or Editor: Rainer Albertz x
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The History and Literature of the Sixth Century B.C.E.
The period of the Babylonian Exile (597/587–520 B.C.E.) is one of the most enthralling eras of biblical history. During this time, Israel went through what was probably its deepest crisis; at the same time, however, the cornerstone was laid for its most profound renewal. The crisis provoked the creation of a wealth of literary works (laments, prophetic books, historical works, etc.) whose development is analyzed in detail by the methods of social history, composition criticism, and redaction criticism. The history of this era is hard to grasp, since the Bible has almost nothing to say of the exilic period. The author nevertheless attempts to illuminate the historical and social changes that affected the various Judean groups, drawing heavily on extrabiblical and archaeological evidence. His study also includes the treatment of the exile in later biblical material (Daniel, Tobit, Judith, apocalyptic literature). Thirty-five years after Peter Ackroyd’s classic Exile and Restoration, this book summarizes extensively the results of recent scholarship on this period and builds on them with a number of its own hypotheses.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (
In: Yahwism after the Exile


The wilderness material constitutes an important part of the book of Exodus. Compositionally, it connects the two centers of the book: the liberation from Egypt (Exod 1-14) and the divine revelation at Mount Sinai (19-40). With regard to content, it reflects the difficulties of Israel's way to freedom. The long Song of Moses (15:1-18) accompanied by the short Song of Miriam (15:21) together, at the beginning of the unit, constitute a heavy compositional marker that interrupts the narrative flow and seems to conclude the entire process of Israel's liberation from Egypt in the first part of the book (Exod 1:1-14:31). The unit of Exod 15:22-18:27 not only shows blurred limits, it also has no clear structure. The uncertain limits and the inconsistent structure of the present form of Exod 15:22-18:27 point to a long formation of the wilderness material, which included divergent editions.

In: The Book of Exodus


Having used the term „personal piety“ in contrast to the thesis of collectivism, which denied any individual belief in older Ancient Israel during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the author now pleads for „family and household religion“ as the more appropriate term for denoting the religious and ritual environment of the individual. This kind of religion supports all social functions of the family, that means reproduction, socialization, consumption, and production, and uses the ideal child–mother/father relationship stamped by trust and dependence as a model for constructing its symbol world. Anyhow, as much as the individual was embedded in his family, the prayer rituals performed for him were a real training of individuality. In the encounter with his personal God he learned to become aware of his own person. Here, the concept that everybody is personally created by God, which is testified by personal names since the 9th century BCE at least, can be identified as the religious basis of individuality. Such an individuality in Ancient Israel, however, was never a distinctive peculiarity in a modern sense, but always related to the identity of one’s family.

In: Religionspraxis und Individualität