Exile as Identity in Persian Yehud
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This paper examines relevant biblical texts to investigate the question of how the offspring of the Judahite deportee population in Babylon – former members of Jerusalem’s elite society – managed to capitalize on a particular interpretation of their national past in order to further legitimize ownership of the name “Israel” over and against any and all competing claims. A close reading of relevant biblical texts discloses an identity strategy based on this in-group’s self-assertion that as a priestly community it had endured a searing divine punishment on behalf of the people, thereby sanctifying itself as the sole agent of redemption for a newly restored, divinely-favored nation. Less explicit in the biblical text, but no less significant, is the community’s strategy regarding outsiders – most notably Judahites who had not been deported – all of which are largely ignored by biblical writers. These strategies combine to forge the dominant, repatriated community’s self-identity in a manner consistent with the classical model of social identity theory pioneered by Henri Tajfel and John Turner, which in its most basic formulation asserts that members of an in-group seek to establish and strengthen their own community’s collective strength and influence at the expense of one or more proximate out-groups.
Roddy, N. (2016). Exile as Identity in Persian Yehud. Supplement Series for the Journal of Religion & Society Supplement Series, 13, 35-47.
Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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