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Negotiating Power in Ezra-Nehemiah
Donna Laird
AIL 26
Publication Date
October 2016


Donna Laird examines Ezra and Nehemiah in the light of modern sociological theorist Pierre Bourdieu. How did this context of hardship, exile, and return change what Ezra and Nehemiah viewed as important? How did they define who was a part of their community, and who was an outsider? It goes on to explore how the books engaged readers at the time: how it addressed their changing circumstances, and how different groups gained and used social power, or the ability to influence society.


  • Chapters dedicated to penitential prayer and to the role of ritual
  • Illustrations of how the writers used past traditions to justify dividing those who belong, the repatriates, from the local population
  • Demonstration of how shifting strategies of discourse in the various sections of Ezra-Nehemiah reflect the changing political and social contexts for the community and the authors

Donna Laird received her Ph.D in Biblical Studies from Drew University (2013). She teaches courses in Hebrew Bible at Ashland Theological Seminary.

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