Sunday, 22 May 2016
Ezekiel and Cultural Memory II
Memory and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,
Tom Thatcher ed., SBL, 2014, page 47
Having pointed to the perviously unknown and unsourced allegations that Ezekiel makes about Israel's history, Carol Newsom asks an important question:
Why would Ezekiel construct a history that is so much at odds with the master narrative that both he and his audience could scarceky fail to interpret it as a contrdiction of common cultural memory?
Newsom suggests that the answer may be found in a delicious quote from a twentieth century philosopher of history:
"Every present has a past of its own, and any imaginative reconstruction of the past aims at reconstructing the past of this present." (R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History, Oxford University Press, 1946, page 247)
Isn't that delightful! When a past is constructed, it depends upon the frame of this particular present to 'configure' or in this case, Newsom is suggesting, 'imagine' a past that would result in the observed or experienced present. She concludes:
Since Ezekiel considered the present of his people to be one of radical apostasy, he constructs the only past that he judges can rightly account for it, one in which the sins of the contemporary period are present from the very beginning. The force of Ezekiel's rhetoric this depends on his audience's reconising his deliberate distortion of cultural memory.