2023: Gathering and Fitting Unhewn Stones

Giffone, Benjamin D. Gathering and Fitting Unhewn Stones: Varying Conceptions of Centralization in Persian-Era Hebrew Literature. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, early 2023 (in preparation).

Abstract

The varying portraits of Northern Israelite cultic centers, particularly Bethel and Shechem, in the narrative books of the Hebrew Bible, demonstrate the shortcomings of textual development models that suggest tendentious layering of later material on top of identifiable earlier material. These portraits also demonstrate that the tendency to view the majority of biblical narrative as late tendentious fiction is not sufficient to explain the texts we have.

This book offers a developed literary account of how these identities and memories came to be coopted into “Judah’s” Bible, as well as a detailed exposition of how memories of Israelite cultic places in particular could coexist theologically within the biblical narratives as we have them. More broadly, this coexistence of Northern, Benjaminite and Southern traditions, and the coexistence of at least three centralization models within the Pentateuch, helps to calibrate the level of “inconsistency” or “unevenness” that we should expect within the texts when it comes to other topics. The use/reception of the Pentateuch and Former Prophets material within Chronicles and other Second-Temple texts points us to instances of unevenness that later interpreters smoothed over but remained in the text. Two key facets that are necessary to adequately account for these unevennesses are community memory, which existed outside the text as some sort of check on the changes that could be introduced but was sufficiently malleable to allow for changes, and narrativity, which allows certain memories to be present within a text but framed to suit the storymakers’ aims.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: The Unhewn Stones
  2. Narrative Historiography and Cultural/Community Memory
  3. Models of Textual Development: Survey and Assessment
  4. Northern Israel, Disputed Cultural Memory, and the Politics of Centralization
  5. Interim Assessment
  6. Cultic Sites in the Babylonian and Persian Periods: Potential and Actual Competitors to Jerusalem
  7. Centralization and Anachronism in the Laws and Narratives of the Pentateuch
  8. Next Layer Down: All Roads Lead to Jerusalem in the DtrH
  9. Bethel, Community Memory, and the (Non-)Erasure of ‘Decentralized’ History in Kings and Beyond
  10. Centralization and the Framing Conclusions of Joshua and Judges
  11. Conclusions: Round Stones Forming a Square Altar

For the complete table of contents please visit mohrsiebeck.com.