Julia Rhyder deposited “The Reception of Ritual Laws in the Early Second Temple Period: The Evidence of Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.” Pp. 255–79 in Text and Ritual in the Pentateuch. Edited by C. Nihan and J. Rhyder. University Park: Eisenbrauns, 2021. in the group Ancient Jew Review on Humanities Commons 4 months ago
This essay examines three cases in which pentateuchal ritual law is employed in Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles: the Sukkôt celebration in Neh 8:13–18, Hezekiah’s Passover in 2 Chr 30, and Josiah’s Passover, in 2 Chr 35:1–19. These case studies reveal that the scribes responsible for Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles considered the ritual texts of the Pentateuch to offer relevant guides for how ritual action should be ideally configured—a conclusion that broadly affirms the role of pentateuchal texts in setting ritual standards. However, while the scribes responsible for these texts accepted the normative authority of the law, they did not view it in a rigidly prescriptive manner. Ritual laws seem rather to have been understood as providing exemplars of ritual action that were compatible with innovation and able to be negotiated with respect to other authorities, be they written or customary. The ritual law also appears to serve functions that extend beyond that of providing a ritual standard. The essay concludes by exploring what scholars stand to gain if we test our theories about the probable usage of pentateucal ritual materials against early Second Temple evidence. Beyond this, it explores the possible implications of early Second Temple evidence for our understanding of the more general effect of the textualization of ritual, as conceived by ritual theorists.