Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Purposeful Process of Paternal Punishment: Leviticus 26 as Read and Referenced in the Books of 1-2 Chronicles, Jubilees, the Words of the Luminaries, and the Damascus Document
by Levine, Zachary I., Ph.D., New York University, 2018, 1001; 10845254
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the use of Leviticus 26 in four Second Temple-era Jewish texts: Chronicles, Jubilees, Words of the Luminaries, and the Damascus Document. Prevailing scholarship will cite the fact that these texts’ review the history of how Israel’s disobedience provoked the covenant chastisements epitomized by exile as proof that Second Temple Jews believed that they had fallen under the curses. The Chronicler’s views on chastisement have been attributed to extreme (Deuteronomic) doctrines of immediate retribution and human initiated repentance. A contrasting belief that true repentance, bringing salvation, was only possible through a divinely initiated recreation of the human spirit has been increasingly imputed to the latter three texts. However, this dissertation argues that Chronicles, Jubilees, Words of the Luminaries, and the Damascus Document texts’ are all fundamentally oriented to the Leviticus 26 teleological paradigm of chastisement-induced repentance, more than the concept of tit-for-tat retributive cursing generally associated with Deuteronomy 28–29. All four texts read and reference Leviticus 26 for an optimistic, reassuring understanding that the covenant chastisements epitomized by exile are a God-guided experiential process whose telos is their repentance. Israel’s suffering serves a purpose, bringing about a reversal of deliberately-committed ancestral trespass ( ma‘al; Lev 26:40–41). In conceptualizing repentance in these texts as a divinely initiated process of inner transformation, this study moves beyond the dichotomy of “human-initiated” and “divine-initiated” repentance assumed by earlier scholarship. The latter three texts draw overt—but by scholars unappreciated and/or actively denied—references to the simple meaning of Lev 26:44–45 promising that God will preserve the people and the covenant he struck with them at Sinai no matter what the people do.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schiffman, Lawrence H.
Commitee: Jassen, Alexander P., Reed, Annette Y., Rubenstein, Jeffrey L., Schiffman, Lawrence H.
School: New York University
Department: Hebrew and Judaic Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Biblical studies, Judaic studies
Keywords: 1-2 chronicles, Damascus document, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jubilees, Leviticus 26, Words of the Luminaries
Publication Number: 10845254
ISBN: 978-0-438-63483-1
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