The Consolation of History

**Exciting news! I’m currently in the process of launching an online course exploring the Second Temple Period—including the blank page between Testaments—expected to launch this September. If you’re interested in more information or early registration, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post. (Updated July 24, 2020)**

“Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it,” the common adage goes, often brought up as a kind of vague and amusing consolation to history students who, as they inevitably must, begin to doubt the practicality of their chosen field of study. But reality is far more complex than the mere repetition of the past. Continue reading “The Consolation of History”

“The sins of Jeroboam”: The Religious Responsibility of the Israelite Kings

**Exciting news! I’m currently in the process of launching an online course exploring the Second Temple Period—including the blank page between Testaments—expected to launch this September. If you’re interested in more information or early registration, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post. (Updated July 24, 2020)**

Without doubt, the emergence of the monarchy in Israel precipitated a dramatic shift in Yahwist religion. Under the Davidic kingship, the previously tribal-based religion was transformed into an increasingly systematized state cult that formed the basis of monarchial legitimization. This process climaxed under Solomon with the establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem, which served as an exclusive cultic centre located in the heart of the kingdom’s political power base. Ultimately, this change led to the emergence of an “official theology of king and temple propagated by the court officials and priests of the state sanctuary, and second a theology of resistance supported by political and religious opposition groups frequently oriented in Yahweh religion from the time before the state” (Albertz, 105). Despite the probable existence of such resistance groups, the king of Israel, wielding both political and religious authority, was nonetheless without rival within the confines of his own state.  

Continue reading ““The sins of Jeroboam”: The Religious Responsibility of the Israelite Kings”

“Confederates and Friends”: The Religiopolitical Significance of the Maccabean Treaty with Rome

Lively scholarly discussion surrounds the impetus and emergence of the Maccabean Revolt, the nature and extent of Hellenization during the pre-Hasmonean period, with the unique rationales driving the characters of the Maccabean narrative—the Jewish Hellenizers, Antiochus IV, and the rebels led by Judah Maccabeus—to act. These topics themselves suffer re-examination ad infinitum. Of slightly less, though by no means inconsiderable, attention is that which is directed towards the authenticity of this period’s ancient primary sources, from Daniel to the Books of the Maccabees, as well as the documentation quoted therein. Yet, despite repeated, and almost unanimous, conclusions proclaiming (or even assuming) their validity, even if not their originality, there remains an almost disconcerting lack of interest in the precise role such documents may have played in not only in bolstering the authors’ respective purposes, but also in the Maccabean’s own nationalistic struggle for religious and political independence. It may be noted that whatever our interpretation of the exact impetus of the religious reform and subsequent revolt, such questions concerning the documents within the Books of the Maccabees do not evaporate. 

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Hypocrisy and the Cultural Critic

At no point in human history have we devoured more and been less satiated. This may resound as little more than a pithy claim, or perhaps the brassy cry of an overzealous critic who, disenchanted by the present state of human affairs, possesses enough shameless hypocrisy to condemn the same culture in which she exists and partakes. Continue reading “Hypocrisy and the Cultural Critic”

On Poets and Muses

There is a natural inclination amongst humankind to endeavour to understand that which is otherwise seemingly incomprehensible. Since man first gazed upon the winking expanse of heaven and roamed the lengths of the unspoilt earth, he attempted to unravel its fabric, chasing the golden threads of the untiring sun, as though by doing so he could cut through the fog of mystery that shrouded his existence.

It was not long before the layers of the cosmos were peeled back, its substances quartered, its causes dissected. The magic once saturating the air and the sun-kissed soil vanished. It fled from the scythes of cool rationality, away from the probing minds of insatiable men, into the nether darkness of a world not yet realized.

Continue reading “On Poets and Muses”