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Max I. Dimont
Jews, God and History (1962)
I. 4 'Religion is packaged'
"Why did the Jews of Judah survive
whereas the Jews of Israel did not?"
Two ideas: 1) canonization of part of Holy
Scripture > the Word of God
2) The "packaging" of Judaism:
making it independent of any physical place.
- Attributed his reforms of Judaism to
- Dimont describes Josiah as having J and E
fused into Deuteronomy. However, this is
inconsistent with more recent scholarship.
- Dimont acknowledges possibility that
Deuteronomy was rediscovered.
Charismatic authority
• Dimont argues that Josiah's reforms gave jews
a desire to follow the Mosaic law of their own
The Prophets
• Dimont claims that the essence of successive
prophets' teachings was that morality was
more important than ritual.
Babylonian Captivity
• Jews replaced The Temple with synagogues
• Jews replaced ritual with prayer
• Dimont argues a) Josiah and the prophets'
innovations were a precursor of these ones, b)
this is why the Jews of Judah were able to
survive where the Jews of Israel didn't.
Babylonian Captivity
• Jews exposed to flourishing intellectual
• When the Persian king Cyrus conquered the
Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to
Jerusalem, they didn't all desire to go
Rebuilding of the Temple
• Jews who returned to Jerusalem built the
Second Temple (the Western Wall).
• Persians did not let the Jews have a king so
they were ruled by a High Priest in
collaboration with a popular assembly.
Nehemiah & Ezra
• Nehemiah was a Jew appointed as the Persian
governor of Jerusalem
• Ezra led the second wave of Jews who
returned from Babylon to Jerusalem
• Ban on intermarriage
• Canonisation of the Torah
• Midrash (exposition)
• Synagogues as well as the Temple
Dimont + Watson?
In what ways are Watson & Dimont's accounts
of the Jewish exile in Babylon consistent?
In what ways are Watson & Dimont's accounts
of the Jewish exile in Babylon inconsistent?