The rhetorics of finding a new identity in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society : the case of the book of Chronicles

Jonker, L. C. (2003-02)

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Scholars generally agree that the Books of Chronicles are the products of certain Israelite (Levitical) groups in the Persian province of Jehud who struggled with the dissonance between their older historical and theological traditions on the one hand, and their present reality on the other hand. Within the totally different conditions under Persian rule (a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society) they had to find a new identity. The primary focus of this article is to examine the rhetorics of the intense struggle for a new identity presented to the reader in the Books of Chronicles. It is argued that this new identity represented a shift from a historically-defined identity that lasted from the monarchical period to the early postexilic phase, to a cultic identity during the Persian era. The article also endeavours to relate the identity forming discourse of these biblical books to the present processes in post-apartheid South African society. The question is asked whether a similar shift can be observed in this modern situation.

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