Andrew Tobolowsky

The Sons of Jacob and the Sons of Herakles

The History of the Tribal System and the Organization of Biblical Identity

[Die Söhne Jakobs und die Söhne des Herakles. Die Geschichte des Stammessystems und der Organisation biblischer Identität.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-155191-8
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Published in English.
In this study, Andrew Tobolowsky shows that the »twelve tribes of Israel« first came to be understood as the »sons of Jacob« only towards the end of the biblical period. He reveals that the concept played a crucial role in the creation of the first continuous biblical account of Israel's past.
In this study, Andrew Tobolowsky offers a new approach to biblical descriptions of the tribes of Israel as the »sons of Jacob«. He reveals how shifting assumptions about early Israelite history and the absence of references to Jacob in most accounts of the tribes make it unlikely that this understanding was part of early tribal discourse. Instead, drawing on extensive similarities between the role Jacob's children plays in the biblical narrative and the role that shared descent from figures such as Hellen and Herakles play in the construction of ancient Greek histories, Andrew Tobolowsky concludes that the »tribal-genealogical« concept was first developed in the late Persian period as a tool for the production of a newly integrated, newly coherent account of a shared ethnic past: the first continuous biblical vision of Israelite history from Adam to the fall of Jerusalem and beyond.

Andrew Tobolowsky Born 1985; 2015 PhD in Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean; since 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.


The following reviews are known:

In: Review of Biblical Literature — (1/2019) (Nathan LaMontagne)
In: Semitica et Classica — 11 (2018), S. 307–309 (Stéphanie Anthonioz)
In: Old Testament Abstracts — 41 (2018), S. 246 (C.T.B.)