Israel and Judah

Building on my work in The Making of Israel, my current research concerns the relationship between Israel and Judah, trying to understand the way that the biblical texts speak to and about these two entities. My long-term goal is to improve our understanding of the nature, origins, and history of Israel and Judah, and to do this by approaching the biblical and extra-biblical texts through an interdisciplinary lens: integrating textual analysis and archaeological data with social-scientific research on the construction and development of identity narratives in response to social and political change.

At present this work is focussed on the effect of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians on Israelite and Judahite identities. My attention has been on the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and on bringing in insights from the social sciences to understand the ways that they understand Israel and Judah. Current research on forced migration, including the impact of migration on narratives about the past and on relationships to the homeland, has proved enormously helpful, as have analyses of imperial domination and its effect on native identities, including the amalgamation of disparate socio-economic classes and the invocation (or invention) of unifying traditions in the face of colonial power. An essay stemming from this work recently won the David Noel Freedman Award from the Society of Biblical Literature.

The first stage of this project was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation, thanks to which I was able to spend eight months as a visiting research fellow at the University of Göttingen conducting a close study of Jeremiah, testing and refining my methodology. (In the process I also wrote An Introduction to the Study of Jeremiah, which appeared with Bloomsbury this year.) Recent visiting scholarships at St John’s College, Oxford and the Gladstone Library have allowed me to extend the investigation into Ezekiel. I will spend 2018 working on the project in Cambridge, as the S.A. Cook Bye-Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.