Gary N. Knoppers, "The Construction of Judean Diasporic Identity in Ezra–Nehemiah"
This essay explores how Ezra–Nehemiah partially inverts the traditional paradigm of exile found in other biblical writings. When one community is formed at some distance from another in antiquity, the derivative community normally appears as a dependent community (or colony). Yet, in Ezra–Nehemiah the homeland repeatedly experiences renewal through initiatives undertaken by diaspora Judeans. Particular attention is given to how the vertical alliances forged within the Achaemenid administration by two diaspora leaders—Ezra and Nehemiah—are deployed to benefit Yehud. The commendation of Ezra and Nehemiah raises fascinating issues about developing notions of Judean ethnicity and identity in a world dominated by imperial interests.