In their bid to galvanise the people after the Exile towards nationhood, the Elders needed a new metanarrative.
So, they captured stories from their oral traditions (very similar to what is left in the folk and oral traditions in most African settings), updated elements of these stories, infused new scripts; with a view to stir the minds of their audiences towards this new overarching narrative.
Most of this work we see in the so called historic books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Chronicles, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther). The editors were careful to use characters known through Jewish history to convey the sort of values that will strengthen and foster unity and prosperity; and those that were detrimental to the cause.
Hence they weaved into these stories character traits like collectivism, selflessness, faithfulness, loyalty, sacrifice, patience, humility, vision, kindness, unity, etc. At the same time inverses like individualism, selfishness, disloyalty, greed, shortsightedness, pride etc.
To this end the characters we find in these stories are not there by coincidence, they are symbols and milestones in the struggle of a people trying to carve out a future amidst the complexities of the world around them. Hence we find ourselves in major difficulties when we try to read these stories through the lenses of Christian dogmas and doctrines; or treat them as principles that govern all aspects of life.
While there might be elements of universality in them, they are clearly Jewish stories which were written retrospectively, with the vision of bringing the people together towards a common goal – nationhood. In simple terms: One God, One People, One Covenant.
Starting this Sunday I will be examining some of these stories with a view to highlight the virtues the editors were trying to convey and why they were necessary.
In other words the sort of Operative Narratives and Scripts the Elders wanted to see manifested in the lives of the citizens of this great nation they envisioned.
Reachout | Revive | Recover