Revelations of ideology : apocalyptic class politics in Early Roman Palestine

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2017-05

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This dissertation investigates the influence of apocalyptic texts on changing class subjectivities in Early Roman Palestine (63 BCE-70 CE). Previous examinations of the relationship between class and religion in this period have focused on the canonical gospels and the writings of Josephus in order to understand the socioeconomic pressures that instigated Jesus’s ministry and the First Jewish Revolt. Deploying a stilted definition of class as an economically determined structure and apocalyptic religion as a means of resisting oppression, most scholarship ignores the dynamic contributions of social actors to class constructions and relations, which, I argue, are evident in the archaeological record and two neglected Jewish apocalyptic texts known as the Psalms of Solomon and Testament of Moses. Theorizing class as a subjective social category constrained by economic structures, but also socially and culturally produced by social actors, this dissertation demonstrates that the producers of these apocalyptic texts were politically invested elites or ‘sub-elites’ who strategically “revealed” the ideology of the emergent aristocracy as false in order to advance their own interests. In so doing, they attempted to influence the class dispositions of their audiences in a way that delegitimized the position of their opponents and legitimated their own positions within local Judaean communities.

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