“Remember This Day on Which You Came Out of Egypt”: The Exodus Motif in Biblical Memory
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Jarrard, Eric Xavier
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CitationJarrard, Eric Xavier. 2020. “Remember This Day on Which You Came Out of Egypt”: The Exodus Motif in Biblical Memory. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThis dissertation is a study of the systematic repetitions of the exodus motif in the Hebrew Bible. I argue that the textual enmeshing of the past exodus event within the biblical legal material is both innate to the fuller expression of the exodus tradition and further developed in the Hebrew Bible for the strategic purpose of shaping the future identity and covenantal obligations of its receivers.
The dissertation itself is composed of three case studies. The first (chapter 2) addresses the enmeshing of sea and Sinai through constructed monuments in the Former Prophets. Specifically, it examines how these monuments became lieux de memoire (sites of memory) that mark epochs within a helical model of time—a historical slinky—capable of memorializing covenant renewals through allusions to the exodus event. I argue that each of these monuments functioned to signify what I refer to as parallel loops of a temporal slinky. The second case study (chapter 3) scrutinizes how the temporal slinky articulated in chapter 2 is subsequently codified within the prophetic literature. This chapter demonstrates how allusions to portions of the Holiness Code—specifically Leviticus 18–20—in Ezekiel’s so-called revisionist history (Ezekiel 20) function to reemphasize the relationship between the redemption schema of the exodus event—both its past and future iterations—and the legal obligations tied to that experience. In the third case study (chapter 4), I argue that the Chronicler recasts events not previously understood to be cyclical as a later iteration—or loop—of the temporal slinky. This chapter establishes Josiah’s death in 2 Chronicles as an inversion of the exodus, a significant departure from 2 Kings 22–23. My conclusion considers this habitual pattern of associating the legal corpora with the exodus event through allusions to both traditions. What precisely is gained by repeatedly combining these two phenomena? Ultimately, the practice demonstrates an ability to constructively reimagine the past for the purpose of shaping the identity of its future receivers.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364525