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Title: Genesis 22 and the socio-religious reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah
Authors: Curcio, Janice Ann
Advisors: Barton, J
Keywords: Pentateuchal study;Ancient Judaic development;Fifth century Jerusalem technology;Fifth century Judaism;Persian period Jerusalem temple
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: The objective of this research project is to build a sound defense of the hypothesis that Genesis 22, the story of the testing of Abraham, functioned in Persian Period Judah to benefit the systematic socio-religious reforms implemented by Ezra the priestly scribe. It is argued in this dissertation that the “Book of the Law” Ezra read to the Temple community is a version of the Pentateuch, which under Ezra’s care had become the holy writ of Judaism. Based on Ezra’s scribal abilities, priestly status, royal commission to teach God’s Law to the people of the Trans-Euphrates Satrapy, and his impetus to reform the apostate Temple community, it is argued that Ezra is the final redactor of the Book of the Law of Moses. Being deeply immersed in the Pentateuch, it is most likely that Ezra would have used the narrative material in the corpus that would best effect socio-religious reform. It is shown in this dissertation that there could be no better text than Genesis 22 to instill that ideology in the apostate Temple community. It is further postulated that Genesis 22 would have been used at that time to instill in the apostate members of that community a sense of reverence for God, obedience to the tenets of the Book of the Law, which overwhelmingly advocates a lifestyle of socio-religious separateness. It is also argued that embracing that ideology was paramount to the survival of the Temple community as a distinct religious entity in the Persian Empire, as well as to regaining their autonomy over the Land. A redaction critical analysis, an examination of key words and phrases, a consideration of separateness as the ideology of the postexilic period, and a study on cultic reform in Ancient Israel are used to support the argument that Genesis 22 was used to impact the wayward fifth-century Jews. Furthermore, it is shown that divine testing, the fear of God, covenant, and socio-religious separateness expressed in the Abraham cycle (all of which culminate in Genesis 22) are the main concerns of Ezra, making the narrative an indispensable didactic in the reform and indoctrination of the apostate elders, priests and Levites of the Jerusalem Temple community. It is shown that Abraham’s demonstration of utter reverence and radical obedience to God’s directives would have best set the standard of the God fearing Jew at that time. Having apparently lost their identity as the people of Yahweh, whose original vocation it was to bless the nations with the revelation of the one true God of creation and his Law, it has been argued in this dissertation that Genesis 22 would have been used in the effort to restore that identity to the Temple community in the fifth-century reform movement.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Affiliated Institutions’ Theses

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