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Space in the Book of Judith. Narrative Analysis and Interpretation of Space

Moderatore: Prof.ssa Nuria CALDUCH-BENAGES — II relatore: Prof.ssa Barbara SCHMITZ.

The study is an analytic-exegetical work which inquires into space in the Book of Jdt in its complexity applying the latest theoretical insights of narratology. The theoretical narratological concept of space is borrowed from Katrin Dennerlein. The study is composed of a theoretical (Part I) and an analytical part (Part II). The former section firstly offers a synthetic overview of perception, concepts and theories of space in respect to the ancient Near East and in relation to the western world from antiquity up to the present (ch. 1). Next, the theoretical approaches to space in the Hebrew and Greek OT are presented (ch. 2). The first part of the study (ch. 3) is concluded by the introduction into the state of research and recent discussion about space in Jdt which is followed by the explanation of the chosen methodology and by the outline of the analytical part of the work. The body of the study consists of the narrative analysis of the micro (ch. 4) and macro space (ch. 5).

On the micro level of the story, spaces are examined in three subchapters, each dedicated to one of three main zones of spatial actions: the East (4.1), the West, excluding Judea (4.2), and Judea (4.3). Both the eastern and the western part of the narrative world undergo spatial changes from a territory of many nations to the region of only one owner whose initial double identity gradually gains additional aspects. The territorial lordship over all the East is achieved by the victory of a multinational alliance over one nation (Media) at its northern borders. In the West, the spatial circumstances of a nation (the Israelites) being surrounded in the middle of an alliance and awaiting an invasion from the northern border are repeated to accentuate the opposite outcome (victory). The land of the Israelites is conceptualised as a double-levelled space, having a foreground (Ἰουδαία) and a background image (Ἰσραήλ/ἡ κληρονομία). The substitution of the former by the latter, the change of the international position (insignificant Ἰουδαία vs. exceptional Ἰσραήλ) and the preservation of the borders intact are the vehicles of a theological and ideological message. A cultic ideological intention is behind the development of the status of Bethulia from a crucial space at the borders protecting the centre to a marginal space inferior to the centre. Personal spaces of the characters reflect their personality by the topographic and architectonic features and are meant to be perceived as the counterparts.

The inquiry into the macro space identifies the logic underlying the arrangements of the individual micro space in the narrative world. In the background of the macro structure, three different but interconnected ways are recognised. Holofernes’ non-linear πορεία is a journey of “the other” (non-Israelite) who fails to accomplish his mission and return home because of not following the right ὁδός. Achior’s unexpected one-way journey is about a proselyte who passes from being a foreigner and wanderer without a fixed home to becoming a co-member and permanent settler in Israel’s house. Judith’s straightforward ὁδός “there and back” is a journey of an Israelite (Jew) who, unless he/she turns away from God’s ὁδός, will always overcome testing times.

The study concludes by a summary of the analytical outcomes, by the presentation of exegetical contributions and by the articulation of other implications of spatial research (ch. 6). There are proposed observations regarding the literary inspiration of the author, the historic milieu of the story, and the perception of space.

The aim of the investigation into space in Jdt is to fill in the existing gap in current Jdt scholarship and to demonstrate the functionality and effectiveness of spatial narrative analysis of Jdt in terms of its contribution to the interpretation of the story and of its individual components and aspects.