Biblical Case Studies of Diaspora Jews and Constructions of (Religious) Identity

  • Jill Middlemas
Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)


A prominent frame of reference with which to understand religion among migrant or transnational communities rests on the dual topoi of exile and attitudes towards the homeland, with particular attention to longing for and thoughts about return to the land of origin. These are not exclusively contemporary questions: the Old Testament contains multiple stories about forced and voluntary migrations of different peoples, emphasising the themes of departure and return. While social science analyses focus on mapping and modelling attitudes towards places of origin and inherited traditions by migrant communities, Biblical scholars tend to discuss this as exile. What if we consider attitudes towards diaspora which are better characterised as survival and adjustment in the country of residence instead of as separation from the country of origin? The Old Testament contains tales of diaspora that when examined critically reveal successful strategies for integration and adaptation, debate around which provides a productive meeting place for interdisciplinary dialogue.


Jewish Identity Religious Ritual Religious Behaviour Foreign Land Biblical Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berquist, J. L., 1995. Judaism in Persia’s Shadow: A Social and Historical Approach. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bickerman, E. J., 1984. ‘The Babylonian Captivity.’ In: Davies, W. D. and Finkelstein, L. (eds), The Cambridge History of Judaism, I, Introduction, The Persian Period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 342–358.Google Scholar
  3. Boyarin, D. and Boyarin, J., 1993. ‘Diaspora: Generation and the Ground of Jewish Identity.’ Critical Inquiry, 19, pp. 693–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carroll, R. P., 1979. When Prophecy Failed: Reactions and Responses to Failure in the Old Testament Traditions. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  5. Carroll, R. P., 1997. ‘Clio and Canons: In Search of a Cultural Poetics of the Hebrew Bible.’ Biblical Interpretation, 5, pp. 300–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clines, D. J. A., 1978. The Theme of the Pentateuch. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coggins, R. J., 1989. ‘The Origins of the Jewish Diaspora.’ In: Clements, R. E. (ed.), The World of Ancient Israel: Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 163–181.Google Scholar
  8. Collins, J. J., 2000. Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  9. Dalley, S., 2007. Esther’s Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Humphreys, W. L., 1973. ‘A Life-Style for Diaspora: A Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel.’ Journal of Biblical Literature, 92, pp. 211–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Humphreys, W. L., 1985. ‘Novella.’ In: Coats, G. W. (ed), Saga, Legend, Tale, Novella, Fable: Narrative Forms in Old Testament Literature. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson, S. R., 2005. ‘Novellistic Elements in Esther: Persian or Hellenistic, Jewish or Greek?’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 67, pp. 571–589.Google Scholar
  13. Krulfeld, E. M. and Camino, L. A. (eds), 1994. Reconstructing Lives, Recapturing Meaning: Refugee Identity, Gender, and Cultural Change. Basel: Gordon & Breach Science.Google Scholar
  14. Lang, B., 2008. ‘Joseph the Diviner: Careers of a Biblical Hero.’ In: Lang, B. (ed.), Hebrew Life and Literature. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 93–109.Google Scholar
  15. Lipschits, O., 2005. The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.Google Scholar
  16. Meinhold, A., 1975. ‘Die Gattung der Josephsgeschichte und das Estherbuches: Diasporanovelle I.’ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 87, pp. 306–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Meinhold, A., 1976. ‘Diasporanovelle II.’ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 88, pp. 72–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Middlemas, J., 2005. The Troubles of Templeless Judah. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Middlemas, J., 2007. The Templeless Age: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the ‘Exile’. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.Google Scholar
  20. Middlemas, J., 2011. ‘The Greek Esthers and the Search for History: Some Preliminary Observations.’ In: Becking, B. and Grabbe, L. L. (eds), Between Evidence and Ideology: Essays on the History of Ancient Israel. Leiden: Brill, pp. 145–164.Google Scholar
  21. Middlemas, J., 2012. ‘The Future of the Exile.’ In: Ahn, J. J. and Middlemas, J. (eds), By the Irrigation Canals of Babylon: Approaches to the Study of Exile. London and New York: T & T Clark, pp. 63–81.Google Scholar
  22. Middlemas, J., 2014. The Divine Image: Prophetic Aniconic Rhetoric and Its Contribution to the Aniconism Debate. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar
  23. Mills, M. E., 2006. ‘Household and Table: Diasporic Boundaries in Daniel and Esther.’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 68, pp. 408–420.Google Scholar
  24. Nagel, P., 2006. An Investigation of the Theologically Explicit Insertions in the Greek Translations of the Hebrew Version of Esther. MA Thesis, University of Pretoria.Google Scholar
  25. Silberstein, L. J., 1999. The Postmodernism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israelite Culture. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Smith, D. L., 1989. Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile. Bloomington: Meyer Stone Books.Google Scholar
  27. Smith-Christopher, D. L., 2002. A Biblical Theology of Exile. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  28. von Rad, G., 1967, trans. D. M. G. Stalker, 1968. The Message of the Prophets. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  29. Westermann, C., trans. J. J. Scullion, 1992. Genesis. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  30. Wills, L. M., 1990. The Jew in the Court of the Foreign King. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  31. Zerubavel, Y., 1995. Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jill Middlemas 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill Middlemas

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations