A joint project of the Graduate School, Peabody College, and the Jean & Alexander Heard Library

Title page for ETD etd-07162014-103702

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Lerner, Ellen Renee
URN etd-07162014-103702
Title Manasseh: Reflections on Tribe, Territory and Text
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Annalisa Azzoni Committee Member
Douglas A. Knight Committee Member
Herbert Marbury Committee Member
Jack M. Sasson Committee Member
Tom D. Dillehay Committee Member
  • Israelite historiography
  • social sciences
  • Gilead
  • Hebrew Bible
  • ancient Israel
Date of Defense 2014-05-05
Availability unrestricted
This study focuses on biblical Manasseh as a tribal entity, a territorial region, and a literary construct to explore facets of ancient Israel’s history and the ways in which it (re)constructed this history in the biblical narratives. Many biblical texts describe Manasseh as the only tribe having territory both west and east of the Jordan River – in the central hills region of the west and in northern Gilead in the east. This is a striking characterization because the biblical writers generally cast the Jordan River as a boundary between the eastern and western tribes, and while these two Manassite regions do not necessarily represent a contiguous area of land, they are nonetheless viewed as a single tribal unit. Since the Hebrew Bible presents conflicting views of the legitimacy of the east Jordan region and those Israelites that inhabit it, Manasseh operates, at least conceptually, in both the eastern and western worlds. Given that the Bible was – in the view of most scholars – ultimately written and compiled in a southern Judahite context several hundred years after Israel’s “tribal period,” however, this study considers the degree to which the Bible’s depiction of the northern tribe of Manasseh represents an ideological picture of the nation’s past. By examining Manasseh through the lenses of literary analysis, anthropology, archaeology, and historiography, I argue that 1) the biblical portrait of Manasseh has been shaped by two distinct layers of tradition: one tradition knows Manasseh solely, or at least predominately, as a western entity while a second tradition conceives of Manasseh as a rather obliquely defined eastern entity; 2) although the idea of Manasseh as a tribe that spans both sides of the Jordan is a plausible model of tribal organization, ultimately the concept of east Manasseh only makes sense within the framework of the twelve-tribe system which scholars widely recognize as a later ideological construct; and 3) insofar as Manasseh is cast as an east-west entity, the tribe ultimately stands as a complex, ambiguous object that simultaneously subverts and reinforces the biblical distinctions between the areas east and west of the Jordan River.
  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  Lerner.pdf 1.13 Mb 00:05:13 00:02:41 00:02:20 00:01:10 00:00:06

Browse All Available ETDs by ( Author | Department )

If you have more questions or technical problems, please Contact LITS.