The Hebrew Canon and Politics
This paper was prepared for a seminar held at the Centre for Advanced Research in Oslo on April 29th 2015, convened by Prof. Terje Stordalen. I am grateful to the scholars present for their comments. The arguments should be seen as a development of those formulated in my Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, 224 p. - ISBN 9780664220778.
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There are reasons why we should pay attention to politics... Politics, in short, was their profession of the canon-makers... Nothing new, then, is being claimed. The integration of religion and politics, with formal theology as one of the mechanisms, was characteristic of the cultures of the ancient Near East... I approach canon, then, with the premise that religion and politics in the world of first millennium BCE Palestine were two aspects of the one perception of reality and of the arts of politics, and that the scribal profession articulated this synergy in the form of theologies or mythologies, just as the priests did physically in their liturgy, the temple itself being the portal between the two worlds... Finally: does this canon continue to have a political role in the modern world?
Philip R. Davies: Chair, Palestine Exploration Fund - Emeritus, University of Sheffield, England - February 2016