I just returned this afternoon from the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Baltimore. A great time was had by all, I think. I wish I had more time to visit the city; unfortunately, Camden Yards only offers weekday tours during the season. But I look forward to the national SBL meeting in Baltimore in November.
My paper, "Sleeping Dogs: Benjamin-Judah Relations in the Persian Period and the Chronicler’s Portrait of Saul," is now posted. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.
Really helps to broaden the context of Persian period influence on the Hebrew Bible. I don’t know enough, but speculating could go several ways here: Does the Chronicler desire a unified Judah/Benjamin because cultic concerns trump everything else (“we need religious solidarity and the money to fund it, and years of Persian influence risks the loss of Jerusalem’s power”); or for anti-Persian reasons (“there’s a real danger of becoming overly-Persianized, so we need to Hebraicize”); or for pro-Persian reasons (“a unified, militarized, zealous nation on Persia’s western border is not a bad buffer”)… you get the idea.
The Chronicler’s motivations are complex and multi-dimensional. I don’t see Chronicles as being overtly pro-Persian or anti-Persian. I think the sense is more that if Yehud doesn’t maintain its religious identity, it will cease to be unique among the peoples of the Empire. The uniqueness of Yehud’s God and his temple would draw the nations to Jerusalem, and they are welcome (2 Chr 6).