The Responsive Self: Personal Religion in Biblical Literature of the Neo-Babylonian and Persian Periods
Author: Susan Niditch
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Works created in the period from the Babylonian conquest of Judea through the takeover and rule of Judea and Samaria by imperial Persia reveal a profound interest in the religious responses of individuals and an intimate engagement with the nature of personal experience. In The Responsive Self, a volume from the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, Susan Niditch uses the rich and varied body of literature preserved in the Hebrew Bible to examine the ways in which followers of Yahweh, participating in long-standing traditions, are shown to privatize and personalize religion.
Niditch studies a variety of phenomena, including the use of first-person speech, seemingly autobiographic forms and orientations, the emphasis on individual responsibility for sin, interest in the emotional dimensions of biblical characters, and descriptions of self-imposed ritual. This set of interests lends itself to exciting approaches in the contemporary study of religion, including the concept of 'lived religion,' and involves understanding and describing what people actually do and believe in cultures of religion. The Responsive Self demonstrates relevance not only for appreciating worldviews of the particular ancient community that is the subject of study, but also for understanding the ways in which all human beings seek to find meaning in life and make sense of the particular social, cultural, and historical contexts in which they live.
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