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Title: The Danite Cultic Legend in its Ancient Near Eastern Context : a study of Judges 17-18
Author: Bray, J. S.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1996
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The dissertation starts from the premise that an earlier recension of the text now preserved in Judges 17-18 was originally formulated in and functioned as the cultic foundation story of the shrine of Dan, and that, as such, it contains valuable historical information about the shrine and its cult. Two introductory chapters deal with the history of research and other issues: historical difficulties of the text, authorship, date, and redactional history. The next chapter looks at the nature of the story, concluding that it is legitimate to regard it as a cultic foundation legend. Each of the major cultic issues is then treated under the headings of image worship, priesthood, and divination. In each chapter the Legend is examined to discover as much as possible about these issues as they relate to Dan. The results of the ongoing excavations at the site have also been taken into account. The Hebrew Bible is then discussed in detail to ascertain the extent to which the picture obtained is consistent with what we know about other early Israelite shrines, and whether the text can add to our knowledge. Subsequently the wider context of the Ancient Near East in particular is examined, focusing on the question whether Dan can be seen not only as a typical Israelite shrine, but also as a typical Ancient Near Eastern shrine, or whether the Israelite cult was wholly different from its cultural milieu. The results of this central section are that Dan is indeed a good example of an early Israelite shrine, and that, despite some local variations, the cult practised there was substantially the same, as any in the rest of the Ancient Near East. A final chapter deals with the contribution of the Legend to the history of the tribe of Levi, and the question whether it was ever a secular tribe. The chapters leave us in no doubt that there was indeed a secular tribe of Levi which became associated with priesthood at an early stage. The Conclusion offers a very tentative reconstruction of the pre-exilic cult at Dan, and then goes on to look briefly at the broader relevance of this study for the study of Israelite religion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available