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Cover of: Rebuilding Jerusalem: Ezra-Nehemiah as Narrative Resilience
Lisa J. Cleath

Rebuilding Jerusalem: Ezra-Nehemiah as Narrative Resilience

Section: Articles
Volume 30 (2023) / Issue 1, pp. 1-27 (27)
Published 18.01.2023
DOI 10.1628/jsq-2023-0002
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  • 10.1628/jsq-2023-0002
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This study analyzes the final form of Ezra-Nehemiah through the lens of historical trauma, which focuses on the cross-generational genetic, epigenetic and social effects of trauma. Sociologists suggest that narrative construction is essential for multigenerational resilience. Based on parallels of forced migration and colonized repatriation, I use findings about historical trauma in indigenous American communities to illuminate the experiences constructed in the Masoretic form of Ezra-Nehemiah. From a colonized perspective, Ezra-Nehemiah imagines a response of resilience to the exile and long-term colonization of repatriated Judeans. Historical trauma theory frames the reestablishment of the temple, the city walls and the law as a narrative source of agency, resilience and cultural clarity. Ezra-Nehemiah communicates to future generations that even though the trauma of exile has not ended, the ability to reassert agency and an adaptable differentiated identity is continual, pressing and restorative.