Mowinckel lecture 2016: Chronicles and Social Memory

The Mowinckel lecturer 2016 is Professor Ehud Ben Zvi, University of Alberta, Canada. 

Professor Ehud Ben Zvi

Chronicles and Social Memory

In a small and marginal province of a large empire, in a temple-city whose total population was a few thousand and its literati far fewer, there existed not one, but two lengthy, written, read and reread ‘national’ histories. Why would two ‘national’ histories emerge and continue to co-exist with each other in such a small, relatively cohesive community? Would it not have been be more ‘cost-efficient’ for the community and the literati who read these histories within a shared social location just to continue re-shaping their existing history, either through interpretation or editorial work, so as to allow the past to remain significant for the present of the community by advancing new readings rather than developing a completely new one? Why would a small community that shares a general social mindscape, a comprehensive social memory and religious/cultic/socio-cultural institutions still prefer to encode its social memory in two lengthy compositions rather than in one? How did the interactions of these histories shape their reception and reading, and how did the latter in turn shape the shared social memory? The city is Jerusalem, the province is Yehud, and the second ‘national’ history is Chronicles.


The lecture will be followed by a seminar. 1400 - 1700, Room U214. The topic for this seminar is "Introduction to Social Memory"

Approaches informed by social memory studies are increasingly used in historical research. There is no doubt that shared memories and preferences in the ways in which memories are constructed play important roles in all societies. In this workshop we will begin exploring social memory approaches in general. We will explore how (and why) one may use these approaches for the study of ancient societies in general and will focus on ancient Israel during the late Persian/early Hellenistic period as a test case.

Published Jan. 21, 2016 10:17 AM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2016 10:23 AM