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Community and Communication in Ancient Israelite Wisdom Texts

KENNEDY, ANGELA,BELLE (2016) Community and Communication in Ancient Israelite Wisdom Texts. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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The authors of the ancient Israelite texts portray complex ideas about how their communication involved the divine. Tied up in these ideas are assumptions about communication between and by community members. This dissertation identifies and discusses key “speech” concepts in ancient Israel, which are most explicit in the wisdom literature, and which reflect the interests and ideas of a literate class within Israel. The perceptions of this class, as evidenced by their portrayal of speech and speech rules in the texts, are as important as any questions about the historicity of that portrayal. To better frame the identified speech concepts, this dissertation uses modern theories about speech and explores the development of writing and its relationship with oral communication. It concludes that ancient Israelite texts portray speech as the means by which individuals were evaluated by the community and God. The texts depict the spoken word as expressing strong commitment; even in an age of treaties and contracts, the vow is described as essentially a spoken phenomenon. Speech was also exposure: aspects of its commitment explain wisdom texts’ emphasis on discretion: the texts portray speech (or restraint) as a marker of relative class, through which individuals assert or subordinate themselves. Ultimately, the wisdom texts describe a community hyper-focused on communication, with communicative rules to honour the divine and foster community order.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Dec 2016 16:13

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