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A Bible Born out of Conflicts: a Literary and Socio-historical Study of the Aaronide/Zadokite and Levite Scribal Debates in the Persian Period

English title A Bible Born out of Conflicts: a Literary and Socio-historical Study of the Aaronide/Zadokite and Levite Scribal Debates in the Persian Period
Applicant Jeon Jaeyoung
Number 174098
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut romand des sciences bibliques(IRSB) Faculté de Théologie Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Religious studies, Theology
Start/End 01.09.2017 - 31.08.2021
Approved amount 545'098.00
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Keywords (7)

Persian Period; Priestly literature; Chronicles; priests; Temple of Jerusalem ; Yehud; Levites

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Le projet vise à reconstituer le débat sur le scénario entre les groupes de scénarios sacerdotaux (Aaronide / Zadokite) et Lévitique dans le temple de Jérusalem pendant la période achéménide (6ème - 4ème siècle, B.C.E.). Cette tâche sera activée grâce à des analyses littéraires et socio-historiques des textes bibliques du Pentateuque et des livres d'Ézéchiel et des Chroniques.
Lay summary
Les études récentes ont montré que la communauté Judahite dans la province perse de Yehud (fin du 6ème - 4ème siècle tardive B.C.E.) peut être caractérisée par l'existence de groupes religio-politiques concurrents et de classes sociales. Ces groupes ou ces classes avaient des idées religieuses divergentes, des intérêts économiques et politiques et des attitudes différentes à l'égard de l'autorité achéménide. Les textes bibliques conçus dans cette période reflètent des idées et des intérêts si divers, entraînant souvent des conflits et des débats entre différents milieux de scribal.

S'il y avait des cercles de scribal concurrents dans le temple, les débats entre eux sont supposés avoir été plus intenses que ceux entre des groupes plus éloignés. Certains indices pour de telles luttes peuvent déjà être trouvés dans la littérature dite sacerdotale. Par exemple, Ezekiel 44 et Numbers 16, critiquent sévèrement les Lévites pour leur revendication de sacerdoce, que les auteurs de ces textes réservent exclusivement aux prêtres Aaronide / Zadokites. Au fil du temps, aussi, les Lévites semblent avoir participé à une activité de scénario, comme on peut l'observer dans un certain nombre de passages pro-lévitiques dans les Livres des Chroniques et Ezra-Nehemiah ainsi que dans les Psaumes attribués aux clans des chanteurs lévitiques . Les soi-disant «passages lévitiques», surtout dans les Chroniques, s'efforcent d'avancer de manière significative la cause des Lévites dans le service du temple. La lutte de scribal des Lévites pour le statut supérieur aurait dû s'engager dans des débats avec des scribes sacerdotales.
Le projet mettra en évidence l'influence de ces conflits et de la coalition entre les deux classes sur la formation de la Bible hébraïque.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.08.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
A Literary Development of the Cloud-and-Fire Pillar Motif in the Pentateuchal Wilderness Tradition
Jeon Jaeyoung (2019), A Literary Development of the Cloud-and-Fire Pillar Motif in the Pentateuchal Wilderness Tradition, in Biblische Notizen, 182, 3-8.
Egyptian Iconography and the Battle with Amalek (Exodus 17) Revisited
JeonJaeyoung (2019), Egyptian Iconography and the Battle with Amalek (Exodus 17) Revisited, in Semitica, 61, 89-115.
Egyptian Gola in Prophetic and Pentateuchal Traditions: A Socio-historical Perspective
JeonJaeyoung (2018), Egyptian Gola in Prophetic and Pentateuchal Traditions: A Socio-historical Perspective, in Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, 18, 12-23.
Literarcy
Jeon Jaeyoung (2018), Literarcy, De Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 775-780.
The Levites
Jeon Jaeyoung (2018), The Levites, in Römer Thomas (ed.), De Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 336-346.
The Priestly Tent of Meeting in Chroicles: Pro-Priestly or Anti-Priestly?
Jeon Jaeyoung (2018), The Priestly Tent of Meeting in Chroicles: Pro-Priestly or Anti-Priestly?, in Journal of Hebrew Scripture , 18, 1-16.
The Promise of the Land and the Extent of P
Jeon Jaeyoung (2018), The Promise of the Land and the Extent of P, in ZAW, 130(4), 513-528.
The Zadokite and Levite Scribal Conflicts and Hegemonic Struggles
JeonJaeyoung (2018), The Zadokite and Levite Scribal Conflicts and Hegemonic Struggles, in Klutz Todd (ed.), T&T Clark, London/New York, 97-110.
The Visit of Jethro (Exodus 18): Its Composition and Levitical Reworking
JeonJaeyoung (2017), The Visit of Jethro (Exodus 18): Its Composition and Levitical Reworking, in Journal of Biblical Literature, 136(2), 289-306.
“The Composition of the Conflict of Korach, Dathan, and Abiram,”
JeonJaeyoung, DozemanThomas, “The Composition of the Conflict of Korach, Dathan, and Abiram,”, in Jeon Jaeyoung Jeon (ed.), SBL Press, Atlanta GA.
“The Elders Redaction”
JeonJaeyoung, “The Elders Redaction”, in Jeon Jaeyoung (ed.), SBL Press, Atlanta GA.
Who Wrote the Torah
Jeon Jaeyoung (ed.), Who Wrote the Torah, SBL Press, Atlanta GA.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Jan Dušek / The Charles University in Prague Czech Republic (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Louis Jonker / University of Stellenbosch South Africa (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Giuseppina Lenzo / University of Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Oded Lipschitz Israel (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SBL Annual Meeting 2019 Talk given at a conference The Israelite Wilderness Camp and the Persian Movable Court of the Great Kings 23.11.2019 San Diego, United States of America Jeon Jaeyoung;
Chronicles and the Priestly Literature Talk given at a conference Introduction 18.11.2019 University of Lausanne, Switzerland Jeon Jaeyoung;
Chronicles and the Priestly Literature Talk given at a conference Histories of the Zadokites and Levites as Symbolic Capital 18.11.2019 University of Lausanne, Switzerland Jeon Jaeyoung;
European Association of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting 2019 Talk given at a conference The Persian Magi and the Ideological Depiction of the Levite in Chronicles 12.08.2019 Warsaw, Poland Jeon Jaeyoung;
SBL International Meeting 2019 Talk given at a conference The Honorable History of the Levites in the Books of Chronicles as a Counter History 01.07.2019 Rome, Italy Jeon Jaeyoung;
The Historical Location of P Talk given at a conference The Priestly Wilderness Redaction and the Persian Empire 10.05.2019 University of Lausanne, Switzerland Jeon Jaeyoung;
SBL International Meeting Talk given at a conference The Levitical Struggle against the Priests and the Tent of Meeting in Chronicles 30.07.2018 Helsinki, Finland Jeon Jaeyoung;
Collective Memory as Capital in Iron Age Levant and Adjacent Regions Talk given at a conference Jeroboam's Golden Calves: Constructing a Counter History of the Levites in the Books of Chronicles 23.02.2018 Paris, France Jeon Jaeyoung;
SBL Annual Meeting 2017 (Boston) Talk given at a conference The Scout Story (Num 13-14) as a Political Argument in the Persian Period 18.11.2017 Boston, United States of America Jeon Jaeyoung;
ProPent Talk given at a conference An Ambivalent Reception of the Tent of Meeting Tradition in Chronicles 04.09.2017 Pretoria, South Africa Jeon Jaeyoung;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Chronicles and the Priestly Literature 18.11.2019 University of Lausanne , Switzerland

Awards

Title Year
Fellowship for Outstanding Scientific Article (awarded by National Research Foundation of Korea) 2018

Abstract

Recent progress of studies of Persian Yehud (late 6th - late 4th Century B.C.E.) has dynamically increased our knowledge of the period, which has often been regarded as a less known, “dark” period in the History of Israel. The studies have shown that the Judahite community in the Persian province of Yehud can be characterized by the existence of competing religio-political groups and social classes. These groups or classes had divergent religious ideas, economic and political interests, and different attitudes towards the Achaemenid authority. The biblical texts conceived in this period reflect such diverse ideas and interests, often resulting in conflicts and debates between different scribal circles. This project starts from an inquiry, whether such scribal conflicts and debates may be primarily observed around the temple of Jerusalem in the Persian period especially between the different clerical classes such as the Aaronide/Zadokite priests and Levites. In the Ancient Near East scribal activities were traditionally linked to temples, along with royal courts; so a similar phenomenon could be at stake in regard to the temple of Jerusalem. If there were competing scribal circles in the temple, the debates between them are assumed to have been more intense than those between more distant groups. Some clues for such struggles may already be found in the so-called priestly literature. For instance, Ezekiel 44 and Numbers 16, harshly criticize the Levites for their claim for priesthood, which the authors of those texts reserve exclusively for the Aaronide/Zadokite priests. In the course of time, also the Levites seem to have engaged in scribal activity, as one may observe in a number of pro-Levitical passages in the Books of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah as well as in the Psalms attributed to clans of Levitical singers. The so-called ‘Levitical passages’ especially in Chronicles endeavor to significantly advance the cause of the Levites in the temple service. Since, however, other priestly texts regulate and perpetuate the lower status of the Levites and often harshly denounce them (Number 3-4;8; 16; Ezekiel 44), the Levites’ scribal struggle for the higher status should have engaged themselves in debates with priestly scribes. Against this background, the present project aims to examine the possibility to interpret the Levitical passages in Chronicles as the Levites’ scribal response against the priestly literature, and reveal the various aspects of the scribal debates between the two clerical groups in the temple of Jerusalem in the Persian period. The scribal debates will be understood in the socio-historical context of the period reconstructed based on various biblical and extra-biblical sources. The project will therefore comprise both literary-historical and socio-historical perspectives. The main subjects and the texts to be studied are as follows: (1)A reconstruction of the successive phases of the inner-priestly and scribal struggle between Araonides/ Zadokites and the Levites through analyses of the priests texts such as Ezekiel 44; Numbers 3-4, 8, 16. (2) An investigation of the Levites’ scribal response against the Aaronide/Zadokite scribal activities mainly through literary analyses of the pro-Levitical passages in the Books of Chronicles. (3) A reconstruction of the socio-historical context of the scribal debates between the two groups in the context of Persian Yehud especially with a focus on the temple in Jerusalem. This project aims to contribute to the advancement of current biblical scholarship by a comprehensive reconstruction of the priestly and Levitical scribal debates in their socio-historical contexts, a topic that has never been thoroughly addressed. In a broader sense, the project addresses the question of religious and social conflicts and resolutions. The different clerical classes in the Persian province of Yehud emerged from diverse social classes with different and often conflicting religious perspectives and political and economic interests. Simultaneously, however, they should have cooperated with each other to reformulate and to “reform” the traditional worship of Yahweh in a radically changing political environment. The project would highlight the influence of these conflict and coalition between the two classes on the formation of the Hebrew Bible.
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