By Ignacio Martín-Baró
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Extra info for Accion y Ideologia
When he and the students heard his words, they marveled to each other and asked him to explain the law to them. This he did quite properly. Then each of them propounded to him all the difficulties which they had, and he replied to them out of the abundance of his wisdom. Outside the College there were litigants, who were not permitted to enter until the students had completed their lesson. On that day, R. Nathan the Judge walked out, and the litigants followed him. However, he said to them: “I am no longer judge.
This is as true for historiography as it is for poetry and belles lettres. The dearth of premodern Jewish historiography hinges on the question of sovereignty. The writers and compilers of the Hebrew Bible, especially those who produced its Masoretic (canonical) text, lived in diaspora. They were not working in the service of a royal court with temporal power. Kings did not mobilize armies based on interpretations of their official histories. Rather, they were religious scholars who were working to produce a stable, authoritative liturgy and jurisprudence.
This means that the observant Jew (and during the period in question we can assume a fairly high level of observance among literate Jews) associated history with worship, communal service, and the celebration of festivals. Not only were the events narrated in the Tanakh motivated by divine will, Jewish history itself was a divine commandment enacted through a cyclical liturgical calendar. 23 Diasporic culture also gave rise to a particular sort of exegetic historiography by which rabbis, in the course of their systematic commentary of a given biblical text, subordinated historical material to organizing principles of biblical exegesis, usually abstracting lessons for moral or religious conduct from the exploits of patriarchs, matriarchs, kings, prophets, and other elite figures.
Accion y Ideologia by Ignacio Martín-Baró