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titleThis is my new article “Hope for Peace in a Broken World: 1 Chronicles, Exile and Building Walls” for Religions 9 (2016): 136-146. 

The 9th issue will be about “Peace in a World of Conflicts”. The stated goal of the great world religions is to establish peace both within the world and between God and human beings. It is not a small paradox that today religion is frequently portrayed as a great disturber of peace both insides the communities and in international affairs at large. The forthcoming issue of Religions/Adyan will reflect upon the ways world religions conceive peace and can contribute to restore it in our trouble times.

Below is a segment of the article:

“Hope for Peace in a Broken World: 1 Chronicles, Exile and Building Walls”

By Grace Ji-Sun Kim

 

The world abounds in clash of cultures, religions and beliefs today, as it has for millennia. In such contexts, how do we try to live peaceably with those who have differing opinions on how to live, worship, and believe. Such situations, in addition to the more mundane reasons based on wealth and land, often lead to wars, destroying each other’s religions and building walls to separate one another. We see this in the division of Korea into North and South Koreas and the devastating consequences for a divided country. Today, our American context of immigration is resulting in a clash of cultures between various world religions as well as the difference in relations between religions and state, where, in Jewish and Muslim societies, the two are intertwined, while in American Christian societies, the two are, in principle, separated. This article will examine the Book of 1 Chronicles to see how people in exile experienced sojourning, settlement, return and rebuilding and what its implications are for us are today. This paper will work towards how different religions, cultures and societies can peacefully coexist.

The Old Testament book of Chronicles is an example of Diaspora literature which was edited into its final form during the fifth-century Persian domination of all lands from the Indus to Cyrene and Macedonia. Chronicles is written to explain how a people who lived through a catastrophic event managed to survive, endure, and find freedom and hope to rebuild their lives. They were not content to let their oppressors have the last word or define their history[1] as they searched to find meaning in their past and tried to move forward with their lives into a new future. The power to fight back, persevere and reestablish one’s heritage is a strong message for us today.

Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 587 BC. In Judah, key aspects of Israel’s past were suppressed and co-opted to fit the ideological requirements of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Part of that cultural suppression was the exile of Judean elite to locations in and around the capital, Babylon, where much of the Old Testament was put to parchment. As with any event in which people are displaced, the exile had the consequence of effacing some of the crucial particularities of Israelite identity and silencing the subjects who constituted it, such as the tribes of Judah, Levi, and Benjamin, the Davidic dynasty, the Levites, the Jerusalem temple, the priesthood, and the Judean cult. This experience of the exile is still felt by Jews today. Many have similar experiences of being exiled during WWII from their homes in central Europe and in other parts of the world such as Asia where armed conflict and genocide caused many peoples to be exiled from their homes.

Living with Different Peoples

When exiles return home, their priorities and their sense of identity may not be the same as those of their parents. For the returning Israelites, the initial excitement and desire to rebuild the temple had worn off. The hope for the emergence of a new king, perhaps Zerubbabel[2] had also worn off. What remained was the grim reality of reestablishing a daily life in Judah. It is in this context that the Chronicler[3] rewrote Israel’s history. It was written to the displaced people that there is hope for them and God is still with them. They are not a forgotten people, but a people whom God has chosen and loves. It becomes a compassionate book giving them a solid direction of how they are to proceed with their life as they return to their homeland dispossessed and damaged by the exile. The chronicler retells its history to remind the people where they have come from and how God has been with them throughout their history.

***For the rest of the article, please visit their website.

[1] Renita J. Weems, ‘1-2 Chronicles’ in The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora Hugh R. Page Jr. General Editor, p. 286-290 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 287, 288.

[2] A governor of the Persian Province of Yehud Medinata (Haggai 1:1) and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah.

[3] Because the author of this material is unknown, he has been designated ‘the Chronicler.’ Most scholars believe that 1 and 2 Chronicles originated in priestly circles and consequently they presume male authorship. Alice L. Laffey, “1 and 2 Chronicles’ in The Women’s Bible Commentary p. 110-115 edited by Carol A. Newsom & Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 110.

 

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BN7A3104-MGrace Ji-Sun Kim is an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author of Embracing the Other;Making Peace with the Earth;Here I Am;Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justiceco-edited with Jenny Daggers;Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style”co-written with Joseph Cheah;Reimagining with Christian Doctrinesco-edited with Jenny Daggers;Contemplations from the Heart;Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit;The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other; and The Grace of Sophia. She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.

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