Israel among the Nations

Mary Joan Winn Leith

in The Oxford History of the Biblical World

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780195139372
Published online April 2009 |
Israel among the Nations

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This chapter explores Israel during the Persian period (539-332 BCE). The period constitutes an era of both restoration and innovation. In leading Jewish circles, written words perceived as having originated in Israel's distant past began to assume a primacy previously uncontemplated — if not unanticipated — in legitimating the practice of worship and for determining social and ethnic identity. The movement toward compiling a biblical canon accelerated. The Psalms, the editions of the prophetic books, and, most important, the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) approached their final shape during the Persian period. The period is also rich in literature by Yahwistic prophets, poets, priests, and philosophers whose names often elude us; they wrote pseudonymously, claiming the names of ancient Israelite heroes or sages, covering their creations with a validating veneer of antiquity.

Keywords: Israel; Persian period; Jews; Cyrus; Judah; Jerusalem; Judaism

Chapter.  20733 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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