Monthly Archives: March 2014

Review of Exile as Forced Migrations by John Ahn

Exile as Forced Migration

A sub-thesis running throughout Prof. John Ahn’s Exile as Forced Migrations is the idea that social structures repeat; specifically for our purposes, that generational patterns of consciousness repeat throughout history, within radically different contexts. Ahn identifies two such contexts in the first chapter of his book: Hebrew Scriptural reaction to the Babylonian Exile, and the scholarship surrounding the Exile since the mid-19th century. In both settings, responses emerge from a first, second, and third generation, as well as a transitional, 1.5 generation. In the case of the Hebrew Bible, Ahn points to the 2 Kings account of the end of the Davidic covenant and the displacements of 597 and 587 BCE as the first generation response. This view of the Exile focuses on the people displaced (kings, rulers, skilled workers, etc), and sees the Exile as overwhelmingly negative. A second generation’s response is found in Jeremiah. Here displacements are described in stark figures, with no mention of class, presenting a less “caustic” or confrontational view (pg. 4). Jeremiah explains that this experience is part of God’s plan. Taking this one step further is Second Isaiah, who represents a third generation. This prophet emphasizes that the experience of exile is part of being made a “new creation,” and holds a constructive view of the situation.

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