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Large-scale economic change such as the rise of coinage occurred during the Persian-dominated centuries (6th -4th centuries BCE) in the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East. How do the biblical texts of the time respond to such developments?In this study, Peter Altmann lays out foundational economic conceptions from the ancient Near East and earlier biblical traditions in order to show how Persian-period biblical texts build on these traditions to address the challenges of their day. Economic issues are central for how Ezra and Nehemiah approach the topics of temple building and of Judean self-understanding, and economics are also important for other Persian-period texts. Following significant interaction with the material culture and extra-biblical texts, the author devotes special attention to the ascendancy of economics and its theological and identity implications as structuring metaphors for divine action and human community in the Persian period.
The festive meal texts of Deuteronomy 12-26 depict Israel as a unified people participating in cultic banquets- a powerful and earthy image for both preexilic Judahite and later audiences. Comparison of Deuteronomy 12:13-27, 14:22-29, 16:1-17, and 26:1-15 with pentateuchal texts like Exodus 20-23 is broadened to highlight the rhetorical potential of the Deuteronomic meal texts in relation to the religious and political circumstances in Israel during the Neo-Assyrian and later periods. The texts employ the concrete and rich image of festive banquets, which the monograph investigates in relation to comparative ancient Near Eastern texts and iconography, the zooarchaeological remains of the ancient Levant, and the findings of cultural anthropology with regard to meals.