ORIGIN AND IDENTITY: REREADING EXODUS AS A POLEMICAL NARRATIVE THEN (PALESTINE) AND NOW (AFRICA)

Hendrik Bosman

Abstract


For several decades the book of Exodus was the locus classicus for the struggle against
colonialism and racial discrimination across Africa. This paper engages with the problem:
How do we appropriate the book of Exodus theologically in a post-colonial Africa? The
validity of the following hypothesis will be investigated: The book of Exodus can be
interpreted as a polemical narrative concerned with origin of Israel as a nation, born
within the crucible of slavery and forged by the guiding divine presence during the sojourn
in the desert and at Mount Sinai. It is argued that there are similarities between elements of
the Exodus narrative and certain texts in the Ancient Near East – specific attention will be
given to the three major themes of the Baal epic: The crossing of the Re(e)d Sea (Ex 14-15)
and Baal’s victory over Yam (sea); the instructions concerning the tabernacle and the
eventual building of the tabernacle (Ex 25-31, 35-40) and the arguments for building a
temple or palace for Baal; as well as the destruction of the golden calf (Ex 32-34) and the
annihilation of Mot (death) by Anat. Brief mention is also be made of correspondences
between the narratives in Exodus and certain Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian texts. In all
these contexts it is suggested that Yahweh is portrayed as the deity that played a crucial
role in the origin of Israel as a nation and that this was constitutive for emerging
monotheism as the religious identity of Israel as a nation. In closing it will be reflected on
how African narratives concerning origin and identity can engage in an intertextual
dialogue with the Exodus narrative.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/90-0-1074

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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