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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter briefly reviews the rise of social-scientific criticism—a subfield of biblical criticism that uses social-scientific theory to ascertain how social forces, institutions, and practices impacted the origin and development of biblical religions and texts and the peoples and communities behind both—and demonstrates the method’s usefulness through application to Judges 3:12–30. Since biblical narratives provide partial and fragmentary glimpses into ancient lives, this essay recommends the careful use of the social sciences to extrapolate encoded social values, systems, and relations. Émile Durkheim’s conceptions of sacred and profane and the function of religious ritual highlight the Ehud narrative’s cultic interests, which underscore the interdependence between deity and collective. Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptions of social field, habitus, and doxa permit one to hypothesize the effect of field and habitus on the text’s ancient producers and distinguish between their explicit views and doxic assumptions.

Keywords: biblical narrative, social-scientific criticism, Judges 3:12-30, Ehud, doxa, habitus, Bourdieu, sacred, profane, Durkheim

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