Prayers and the Construction of Israelite Identity

Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher and Maria Häusl (editors), Prayers and the Construction of Israelite Identity. (Ancient Israel and its Literature 35) Atlanta: SBL Press 2019

This collection of essays from an international group of scholars explores how the elaboration of biblical prayers of the Persian and early Hellenistic periods shaped identity, evoked a sense of belonging to specific groups, and added emotional significance to this affiliation. Contributors draw examples from different biblical texts, including Genesis, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Psalms, Jonah, and Daniel, to illustrate the transformation from short, individual prayers to longer theological and historical reflections, ritualized recitations, confirmations of hope, prophecy, and penitential prayers. Essays approach the texts from different perspectives, showing how prayers play a key role in the construction of biblical books, how biblical figures are characterized by prayers, and how these prayers shape and modify individual and collective identity discourses.