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Title: Family and identity in the Book of Judges
Author: Clifton, Bruno John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 3938
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The importance of the family in ancient Near Eastern society is so frequently recognized that it has become a truism. It is therefore surprising that in a work of identity-making such as the Bible, the influence of family on the texts' formation has been under studied. Such an omission may be because the discussion on family in the Bible has largely concentrated upon reconstructing day-to-day life as background to our reading. Scholars have not seen family loyalty as an essential component in the narratives' meaningfulness. In my dissertation, I examine family and identity in the Book of Judges. I argue that the family is the dominant locus of identity for people throughout the first millennium BCE and that Judges' social communication depends upon acknowledging this dynamic. The meaning of the local folklore gathered together in Judges relies upon an appreciation of the values held by the society from which it comes and distinguishes this core material from the editorial framework. This perspectival dichotomy also raises questions about the book's redactional methodology. Identity is revealed through socio-relational dynamics; hence, my thesis takes a social-scientific approach to the texts. Following an introduction, the first chapter discusses family and identity with particular reference to the localized structures of first-millennium BCE Palestine. The next four chapters present texts from Judges in which I employ four socio-anthropological theories. I begin with the tale of Jael and Sisera in Judg 4 and 5, to which I apply the concept of social space. I then compare the stories of Abimelech in Judg 9 and Jephthah in Judg 11 in light of ascribed social status. The wedding of Samson in Judg 14 forms the third study for which endogamy and the socio-economic autonomy of the household are relevant theories and I end by discussing hospitality and social distance in the eventful journey of the Levite in Judg 19. I conclude that the 'nationalizing' of these folktales by the editorial frame must nevertheless respect their familial perspective to maximize the success of Israel's identity-making.
Supervisor: MacDonald, Nathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Bible ; Old Testament ; Judges ; Sociology ; Anthopology ; Identity ; Family