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FOR 2757 (2019 - 2023)

Subproject C: Old Testament Studies

Local Self-governance in Judea in the second century BCE: Historical and Literary Perspectives

This subproject deals with the massive conflicts surrounding the cult and the way of life in Judea in the 2nd century BC. Individual groups of the local elite triggered these through their innovations with regard to the socio-cultural foundations and through their attempt to update traditional ways of life. At that time, Judea was part of the ruling Seleucid Empire, which was limited in its depth of regulation along different state functions. Recent research in the field of Classical Studies on the constitution and internal functioning of the Seleucid Empire, which has so far hardly been incorporated into the field of Biblical Studies, will help to analyze the seemingly authoritarian interventions on the part of the king as part of the struggle over new forms of self-governance at the lowest (local) level of government.The oldest sources available are the First and Second Book of Maccabees. These are examined narratologically in two case studies in order to capture their own self-understanding, their narrative perspective and their intention. The two books are based on different concepts and represent independent narratives that describe the events as massive and illegitimate interventions by local actors, but also by the Seleucid Empire. The depictions of the First and Second Book of Maccabees, which are both highly perspective-bound, narrate the local forms of self-governance as identity-generating stories of self in such a way that actors are either legitimized or delegitimized and thus generate ex post narrative coherence and normativity. The subproject also aims at further developing the theoretical framework of narratology in order to combine narratological analyses and historical-critical approaches more closely than has previously been done. The parallel case studies will be evaluated comparatively and examined historically in a historical-critical relecture. Tensions and differences between the perspective-bound literary representations and the historical reconstruction will be examined primarily with a view to the organization and institutional developments in Jerusalem. The research design of the research group will make it possible to determine the areas of governance, the involved actors and processes of liminationas well as the forms of governance and the relationship to the central power in the course of the developments of the 2nd century B.C., and to thus foster an appreciation for the events as decisive moments in the development of Judaism in antiquity. “Locality matters” – also and especially in Judea of the 2nd century B.C.