Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Horsley, "Scribes, Visionaries, and Politics of 2nd Temple Judea"

In the darkness that is the present--an inkling of light, ever so bleakly, has penetrated the atmosphere and yes, I can finally see the end of the tunnel which is this semester---suicide Hebrew, Advanced Greek Grammar, Academic internship, History of Philosophy, Evangelism (a rather ironic, but required course), and a NT Backgrounds course is a formidable load. And yet, it appears I will survive and actually do well grade wise also.

I'm working through, in the midst of the end of semester woes, Richard A. Horsley's new Scribes, Visionaries, and the Politics of Second Temple Judea (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007). Chiefly, he argues that the events espoused in Ezra and Nehemiah are imperial propaganda (I'm distilling the subtleties quite a bit here). To that end, he argues that the Jewish elite were primarily the one's taken in the deportation, and now (or rather then!) the Persian empire in sanctioning the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple were in effect establishing an indigenous imperial tool, namely, the Temple-state through which to maintain power over the territory, but through local and therefore indigenous (at least ethically) peoples. Again, I haven't worked through the whole text, and likely spent far too much time identifying and wrestling with his presuppositions and methodology, but this appears prima facie to be the gist of his argument. It will be interesting to see how he traces it. While I think Horsley proposes several interesting and tenable ideas in his historical reconstruction, I wonder whether he deals even handedly with the data. That is, his rhetoric appears at times a little over confident that it all fits into his imperial-paradigm. I suppose having just mulled over Moore's work, substantiates much of my reticence to imbibe uncritically Horsley's historical reconstruction.

I long to blog more, but the urgency of the moment necessitate that I refrain...for tonight.

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