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RE: [XTalk] Davidic genealogies, Eusebius and Anti-Roman Imperialism

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  • Lew Reich
    It strikes me that in considering this question it may be worthwhile to distinguish between claims of Davidic descent as a matter of historical fact and claims
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 26, 2006
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      It strikes me that in considering this question it may be worthwhile to
      distinguish between claims of Davidic descent as a matter of historical fact
      and claims of Davidic descent for symbolic and propagandistic purposes.

      I find it difficult to imagine that in the second century BCE or later there
      were any Judaeans at all who had a plausible recognized claim to Davidic
      descent. The main reason for my skepticism is the recorded Judaean communal
      response to the success of the Maccabean revolt in establishing Judaean
      self-rule in the mid-second century BCE for the first time since the the
      extinguishing of the First Temple monarchy. If at that that there had been
      any Judaean family with a recognized claim to Davidic descent, there it
      would have been impossible for the Hasmonean dynasty to assume political
      rule - the people would have insisted on a legitimate Davidic claimant's
      assuming the throne. Instead we are informed (1 Macc. 14:41) that an
      extraordinary great assembly of the people ratified the expedient of the
      Simon Hasmoneans' assuming the kingship "until a true prophet should arise"
      - presumably to resolve the question of how the kingship should be handled
      in the absence of a recognized scion of David.

      In later generations the families of both the patriarch and exilarch claimed
      Davidic descent, but as the Encyclopedia Judaica notes (5:1344), these
      claims provide no genealogy. It seems likely to me that such claims are a
      conventional way of asserting the right to exercise lawful authority, much
      the Chinese convention of the "mantle of heaven," and cannot be regarded as
      having any basis in historical reality.

      In sum, it seems to me that certainly by the mid-second century BCE there
      remained no recognized descendants of the House of David. Any later
      claimants to Davidic descent were making political rather than genealogical
      claims, and it is not surprising that the Romans might have regarded such
      claimants as potentially seditious.

      My apologies to the list if these considerations have previously been
      addressed - I have not been able to follow the discussion closely in recent
      weeks.

      Lewis Reich


      _____

      From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf Of Douglas Horst
      Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 1:24 PM
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [XTalk] Davidic genealogies, Eusebius and Anti-Roman Imperialism



      I ran across a reference to Eusebius EH III.XII and III.XIX speaking of the
      Vespasian and Domitian searches to exterminate those claiming descent from
      David in _David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the
      Roots of the Western Tradition_ by Finkelstein and Silberman. I haven't
      found any reference to this in cursory look through my notes on the Luke and
      Matthew Infancy narratives.

      Is anyone aware of any study into the historicity of Eusebius on this? I
      vaguely remember a discussion I came upon somewhere about the systematic
      destruction of Jewish documents after the Jewish revolts but don't recall
      where or when.

      Secondly I don't recall this being taken into account in understanding the
      placement of the genealogies at the beginning of Matthew and Luke. Does
      anyone have memories of this being discussed anywhere?

      Thank you in advance.
      --
      Peace and Kind Regards

      Douglas Horst
      Evanston, IL USA

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