Professor’s Corner – Dr. Gord Oeste: Doctoral Dissertation
Dr. Gord Oeste, Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies, has published a book that is an update of his 2008 doctoral dissertation.
Gordon K. Oeste. Legitimacy, Illegitimacy and the Right to Rule: Windows on Abimelech’s Rise and Demise in Judges 9. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 546. New York: T & T Clark, 2011.
This book explores the portrayal of the rise, reign, and demise of Abimelech in Judges 9 and asks about whose interests this portrayal may have served. The negative depiction of Abimelech’s kingship in this chapter, coupled with Gideon’s rejection of kingship in Judges 8:22-23, has led interpreters to view the passage as anti-monarchic. This perspective clashes with the pro-monarchic stance of Judges 17-21. However, while the portrayal of Abimelech’s kingship is negative, it may yet have served as a legitimation strategy for the monarchy. In support, this study examines Judges 9 through three methodological lenses: a narrative analysis, a rhetorical analysis, and a social scientific analysis.
In addition, anthropological data on early and developing states shows that such states attempt to prevent fissioning (the tendency inherent within political systems to break up and form other similar units) by subverting local leaders, groups, and institutions, and so legitimate the centralization of power. When read in this light, Judges 9 supports monarchic interests by seeking to subvert localized rule and alliances in favour of a centralized polity.