Nahum’s Representation Of And Response To Neo-Assyria: Imperialism As A Multifaceted Point Of Contact In Nahum -- By: Daniel C. Timmer

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:3 (NA 2014)
Article: Nahum’s Representation Of And Response To Neo-Assyria: Imperialism As A Multifaceted Point Of Contact In Nahum
Author: Daniel C. Timmer


Nahum’s Representation Of And Response To Neo-Assyria: Imperialism As A Multifaceted Point Of Contact In Nahum

Daniel C. Timmer

University Of Sudbury

Using an intertextual approach that focuses on the multifaceted transmission of concepts in addition to textual transmission of discrete points of ideology, this article examines how the biblical book of Nahum presents the Assyrian Empire and how it responds to it. While Nahum’s categories nearly mirror those of the relevant Neo-Assyrian sources, the response Nahum formulates to Assyrian imperialism is radically different from the militarily-driven project of world domination whose influence Nahum’s author so keenly felt. The nature of Nahum’s reaction to Assyria also distinguishes it from some other responses to non-­Israelite nations in the HB/OT.

Key Words: Nahum, Neo-Assyria, empire, violence, Judah, intertextuality, cross-cultural influence

Author’s note: An earlier form of this article was presented in the Israelite Prophetic Literature section at the national meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 17, 2012, in Chicago. I am grateful for a 2011-12 research expense grant from the Association of Theological Schools that supported research on the role of non-Israelite nations in the Twelve, and to Daniel Fleming of New York University and several members of BBR’s editorial board for their helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Introduction

It is self-evident that the author of Nahum knows of Assyria and responds to it in his book. This assertion tells us little about the book’s message, however. To develop a contextual and critical understanding of Nahum in relation to Assyria, we must consider at least two related questions: what does Nahum know of Assyria, and how does the book respond to Assyria as it portrays it? The issues raised by these questions move us away from simple affirmations regarding Nahum’s context to the study of cross-cultural influence in the Assyrian Empire and the interpretation of diverse Hebrew and Assyrian literature, and promise to shed light on some overlooked aspects of the book’s message. After a few words on method

and Judah’s Assyrian context prior to and during the seventh century, this study will take up several areas of contact between Judah and Assyria with a focus on what the Judean author chose to present as characteristic of Assyria and how he responds to the Assyrian Empire as he presents it.1

Method

Guided by the comparative method, this study will consider Nahum’s representation of Assyria a...

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