Kingship Remembered and Imagined: Monarchy in the Hebrew Bible and Postmonarchic Discourse in Ancient Judah

  • Author / Creator
    Wilson, Ian Douglas
  • This study addresses the question of how postmonarchic society in ancient Judah remembered and imagined its monarchy, and kingship in general, as part of its past, present, and future. By way of a thorough analysis of Judean discourse in the late Persian period, the study argues that ancient Judeans had no single way of remembering and imagining kingship. In fact, their memory and imaginary was thoroughly multivocal, and necessarily so. Various views of the past and of the future shaped and balanced one another, maintaining a polyvalent remembering of kingship in postmonarchic Judean society. Chapter 1 lays out the methodological and theoretical framework for the study, situating its historical and historiographical interests within the literate community of late Persian-period Judah, and arguing for a particular, systemic understanding of social memory that draws on cultural anthropology and narratology. Chapter 2 then examines the law of the king in Deuteronomy (17:14–20) and the pre-monarchic figures of Moses and Joshua, showing how this law and these figures functioned as primary frames for kingship-discourse, and thus for the social remembering of kingship, in ancient Judah. Chapter 3 argues that multivocality and overdetermination in the discourse’s transition from judgeship to kingship gave rise to and informed the multiple discursive potentials that play out in the rest of kingship’s story: the issues of dynasty’s successes and failures, of cultic devotion and apostasy, of divine promises, and so forth. With regard to these issues, kingship was doublethought, simultaneously possible and impossible. Chapter 4 focuses on David and Davidic kingship, especially with regard to the multiple discursive potentials highlighted in Chapter 3. Instead of limiting the discourse, instead of attempting to reduce it to a single voice, the contribution of David and Davidic kingship was to encourage and maintain the multivocality, as they were keyed to the mnemonic framework of the Deuteronomic king-law and the doublethought rise of kingship in the first place. Chapter 5 shows how, in prophetic literature, the remembered future was keyed to the remembered past. Prophetic literature drew on the discursive themes of the remembered past, as it was construed in historiographical books and in the prophetic books themselves. Images of the future, in the corpus of prophetic literature, balanced memories of the past. Judah’s model of past kingship reflected its model for future kingship, thus bringing a sense of balance and unity to the discourse as a whole and to Judah’s social remembering of monarchy. Chapter 6, the study’s concluding chapter, then considers a major implication of the foregoing analysis. This chapter argues that—on account of the prophetic literature’s discursive relationship with historiographical literature, and on account of its key function in Judah’s socio-mnemonics of kingship—the prophetic books participated in what might be called “metahistoriography.” It was a kind of historiography, but one with a pronounced speculative outlook; it reflected and took part in discourse about the past, but with a view of future potentials always firmly in mind. This study therefore reconsiders the generic function of Judean prophetic books in particular, as well as the interrelationship between historiographical and prophetic books in general, within Judean discourse.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Religious Studies
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Ben Zvi, Ehud (History and Classics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Newsom, Carol (Emory University)
    • Braun, Willi (Religious Studies)
    • Pownall, Frances (History and Classics)
    • Nihan, Christophe (University of Lausanne)
    • Landy, Francis (Religious Studies)
    • Kemezis, Adam (History and Classics)