Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile

Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile

Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile

Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile

Synopsis

Whereas much recent work on the ethics of the Hebrew Bible addresses the theological task of using the Bible as a moral resource for today, this book aims to set Ezekiel's ethics firmly in the social and historical context of the Babylonian Exile. The two 'moral worlds' of Jerusalem and Babylonia provide the key. Ezekiel explains the disaster in terms familiar to his audience's past experience as members of Judah's political elite. He also provides ethical strategies for coping with the more limited possibilities of life in Babylonia, which include the ritualization of ethics, anincreasing emphasis on the domestic and personal sphere of action, and a shift towards human passivity in the face of restoration. Thus the prophet's moral concerns and priorities are substantially shaped by the social experience of deportation and resettlement. They also represent a creativeresponse to the crisis, providing significant impetus for social cohesion and the maintenance of a distinctively Jewish community.

Excerpt

This book is the revision of a thesis for which the degree of D.Phil. in the University of Oxford was awarded in 1997. I am especially grateful to my supervisor, John Barton, who first suggested that I think about ethics in the Hebrew Bible, and guided me through my doctoral research with wisdom and constant encouragement. I would also like to thank Paul Joyce for reading my initial drafts and later revisions with great care, and for many invaluable discussions. I am grateful to David Chalcraft for his direction in matters sociological, and to Hugh Williamson and Ronald Clements for their helpful comments on earlier stages of the work. Thanks are also due to my family and friends, who have had to bear with me throughout the process of research, writing, and revision. This book is dedicated to my parents, Catherine and Renton Mein, without whose love and support it would never have been possible.

Andrew Mein Westcott House, Cambridge

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