Foreign Lands – Multiple Perspectives: Foreign Land Impurity in the Hebrew Bible, its Context, and its Ideological Underpinnings

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Title
Foreign Lands – Multiple Perspectives: Foreign Land Impurity in the Hebrew Bible, its Context, and its Ideological Underpinnings
Contributors
Allgood, Andrea Ellen (creator)
Olyan, Saul (Director)
Kraemer, Ross (Reader)
Rutz, Matthew (Reader)
Brown University. Religious Studies (sponsor)
Doi
10.7301/Z0T72FTT
Copyright Date
2014
Abstract
This dissertation explores how Israelites regarded foreign lands, relates this to the debate about biblical categorizations of pollution and purification, and points to larger questions about Israelite religion and views about their place in the social, political, and historical situation of the ancient Near East. Beginning by critiquing the treatment of purity “systems” in recent scholarship about the Hebrew Bible, this study highlights the idea that purity rhetoric was dynamic and could be applied in myriad ways for a variety of purposes. Examining concepts related to purity in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Egypt, it is argued that there does not seem to be evidence of a categorization of purity along “moral/ritual” lines among Israel’s neighbors. Additionally, such a schematization does not seem to persist in biblical literature, as there is significant overlap between purity traditions. The study analyzes the convergence of land and purity issues by examining biblical texts that refer to “moral” land impurity on the one hand, and the variety of ways in which foreign lands are addressed, on the other. It is argued that “moral” land impurity was applied only to the land of Israel. Contrary to common assertion, texts that speak of foreign lands as “impure” do not seem to employ this terminology as a means of vilifying the “immoral” practices of foreigners; rather, these texts employ purity rhetoric in a variety of subtle ways, drawing on different purity systems while addressing an Israelite audience, often without reference to foreigners at all. Moreover, the rhetoric of impurity was only one of several possible strategies that biblical authors could employ to indicate the desperate situation of exile and advocate for specific intra-group changes or practices. Issues relating to power dynamics, cultic centralization, and Israelite ideology in the face of foreign imperial power are addressed as motivations for biblical treatments of foreign lands. This work is informed by contributions of postcolonial theory to understanding power-dynamics reflected in literature. It hopes to inform theory by demonstrating how biblical discourse on foreigners and foreign lands gives perspective on Israelite reactions to imperialism, insulation, exile, and cultural assimilation.
Keywords
purity in the Hebrew Bible
ritual or moral defilement or impurity
land pollution or defilement
biblical land ideologies
foreign land impurity
land purity in ancient West Asia
postcolonial theory
foreign land rhetoric
purity constructions
concepts of land in the Hebrew Bible
comparative purity systems
Hebrew Bible
purity in the ancient Near East
biblical reflections on imperialism
homeland and exile in the Hebrew Bible
pollution and purification in the ancient Mediterranean
Postcolonialism
Assyriology
Notes
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2014)
Extent
xii, 485 p.

Citation

Allgood, Andrea Ellen, "Foreign Lands – Multiple Perspectives: Foreign Land Impurity in the Hebrew Bible, its Context, and its Ideological Underpinnings" (2014). Religious Studies Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://doi.org/10.7301/Z0T72FTT

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