Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Memory Trauma and Identity in Ezra-Nehemiah


Honors College


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



Arts and Humanities | Medicine and Health Sciences


The absence of any material fulfillment of the golah community's desired restoration in Yehud produced a perceived "trauma." In turn, this resulted in the usurpation of cultural memory (traditions etc.) and a subsequent construction of an exclusive group identity. Using Ruth Leys' theory on trauma and memory, it can be shown that an initial survivor's guilt led to an autotelic response promoting the idea that the restoration of "Israel" (intentionally defined) was affected by exile (thus, explaining Ezra-Nehemiah's [also Dtr.'s] emphasis on exile as divine punishment). In other words, reading post-exilic texts such as Ezra-Nehemiah with the aid of Leys' model reveals responses to social-psychological concerns conducted by writing (autotelic) texts that argued that restoration was the desired consequence of exile--a strategy that while at first was a survival mechanism was later developed by Ezra-Nehemiah into one supporting the golah community in its contest for social-political authority. This investigation focuses on the development of that strategy within the cultural memory of the Judean exiles as that which can be determined from Ezra-Nehemiah.

Conference Name

Annual Meeting of the SBL

Conference Location

Chicago, IL

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