ANE 197: Bible and Empire




This course explores the importance of empire for the study of the Hebrew Bible and its history of reception. Students are introduced to the major hegemonic expansionist states, or “empires,” that shaped the history of ancient Israel from the Late Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period. The course is structured around key themes for the study of ancient empires, including borderlands, migration, warfare, and cultural hybridity. It focuses on specific case studies from the Bible, including the story of the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, the tales of the “mini-empire” established by David and Solomon, the accounts of the Babylonian exile and return to the land, as well as the stories of the Maccabean revolt. Particular attention is paid to the relevance of postcolonial criticism for the exegesis of the Hebrew Bible, with the aim of strengthening students’ skills in judiciously applying socio-scientific models to the study of ancient texts and historical contexts. We also consider the reception history of the Hebrew Bible in more recent imperial contexts: its use in supporting the interests of imperialism and colonial expansion, as well as its mobilization against such interests. Hebrew not required.