Book: Leadership, Social Memory and Judean Discourse in the Fifth - Second Centuries BCE
Chapter: Mystified Authority: Legitimating Leadership Through “Lost Books”
This article investigates how some biblical books, in particular Deuteronomy, legitimate leadership authority in post-exilic Yehud. It is part of the question: What mechanisms are at work when books legitimate social power? My point is that the biblical books studied in this article (Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah) are “sites of memory” of lost books, or rather of lost imprints of words from God. Starting from the physicality of scrolls that were there, got lost, and are replicated in the new physicality of the biblical texts, the article focuses on biblical texts as “things,” that is, how these physical objects create an embodied encounter with “divine alterity” and how they make the sacred present. It is inspired by recent studies on how “things” mediate belief. By combining the ideas of mystification, mimesis, and alterity with the “thingly turn,” I try to understand how representations of lost books can make these very representations an embodied encounter with the biblical divinity for those confronted with them; that is, how mimesis and alterity legitimize and authorize these writings as “divine” books. In turn, this legitimizes leadership.