DFG Research Grant: Judeans/Arameans at Elephantine: Their Social and Economic Status in Light of New Persian Period Texts from Egypt and Babylonia

This project is philological and foundational research that examines the social and economic status of Judeans/Arameans in Persian period Egypt. The project's line of inquiry differs from previous studies. Research on Elephantine, which often follows the work of Bezalel Porten, has assumed that it was a military colony with its religious form similar to that found in the biblical books of Ezra-Nehemiah and post exilic Judean sources. The project proposed here deliberately does not focus on the religious questions. Instead it asks: What can be said about the economic and legal situation of Judeans/Arameans when (a) considering the newly published Aramaic sources and (b) comparing Aramaic texts from Elephantine with the material from Babylonia? One result of the project's yearlong preliminary research is that neither the previously published nor the newly edited unpublished Aramaic papyri from Elephantine refer to military combat groups or mercenaries nor do they focus on religious issues. Instead, the texts provide a view into aspects of Judean/Aramean life at Elephantine, their social statuses, and their interactions with the Persian authorities in legal and economic terms. In this way they are comparable to the Babylonian material, which also does not provide explicit information about the religious identity of Judeans (other than what can be said about personal names) and which contains important information on the legal and economic status of Judeans and other (Northwest Semitic) ethnic groups. The project's line of inquiry has immediate consequences for Old Testament research, namely, research into the social status of one group of Judeans leads to literary-historical questions about the Bible.
Ultimately, this research project will not only contribute to the history of ancient Judeans, but also prepare new groundwork for research on Old Testament literature, which is increasingly dated to the Persian period.

Schipper, Bernd U. Prof. Dr. Dr. (Details) (History of Israel in the Ancient Orient)

Participating external organisations

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of project
Start date: 01/2021
End date: 05/2024

Research Areas
Protestant Theology

Research Areas
Israel und Ägypten – Forschungsschwerpunkt Elephantine

Last updated on 2023-12-04 at 07:05