The religion of the landless : a sociology of the Babylonian Exile
In this study, the Babylonian Exile of the Jews is approached from the perspective of a sociological analysis of more recent historical cases of mass deportation and refugee behaviour. After this survey, four behaviour patterns are isolated that function as 'Mechanisms for Survival' for minorities in crisis and under domination in a foreign environment. These 'Mechanisms' include 1) Structural adaptation, 2) The rise of, and conflict between, new leaders. 35 new Folklore patterns, especially 'Hero' stories, and 4) adoption or elaboration of ritual as a means of boundary maintenance and identity preservation. These four mechanisms are then illustrated from Exilic texts of the Old Testament. The rise of Elders and the changing nature of the Bet Abot is seen as structural adaptation. The conflict of Jeremiah and Hananiah, and the advice of Jeremiah in his 'letter', is seen as the conflict of new leaders in crisis. The 'Diaspora Novella' is compared to Messianic expectation and especially to Suffering Servant to show how folklore can reflect social conditions and serve a function as 'hero stories'. Finally, the latest redactional layers of 'P' reveal concern for purity and separation that expressed itself in social isolationism and boundary maintenance, particularly in the dissolution of marriages with foreign wives. There is also a section on social conflict after the restoration, as a measure of the independent development of exilic social ideology and theology. The conclusion is that sociological analysis of the Exilic material reveals the exilic-post-exilic community exhibiting features of a minority group under stress, and the creative means by which that group responds by Mechanisms for Survival.