Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Not Applicable

Advisor Role

Not Applicable


The thesis examines the role and power of ideology in the formation of the Hebrew people. Ideology has been selected as a salient theme since it promises to answer various questions which yet linger concerning this early period in Israel's history. Without an appreciation of the role played by ideology, the formative phase of the Hebrew people seems to be enigmatic and largely a series of coincidental events. Although this dissertation cannot offer conclusive arguments to support the historical reconstruction proposed herein, it does put forward plausible explanations for the manner in which Hebrew nationhood began. By means of this method, ideology is identified as a primary motivating force behind the merging of three disparate Hebrew groups. Chapters one and two are devoted to constructing generic paradigms of nationhood and culture. Chapter three takes up the question of defining the character of historiography as well as exploring the acceptability of using the patriarchal narratives as a source of historical data. Chapter four analyzes significant aspects within the Hebrew traditions and utopic vision. The paradigms erected in chapter one and two are employed in this exercise. The three main traditional groupings of Hebrew tradition are: the patriarchal narratives, the Exodus event and the Sinai Covenant event. Chapters five and six discuss the three Hebrew groups which likely constituted the tribal league. The process of growth and development of the league is discussed in the light of historical factors such as politics, economics, and sociology which characterized the ancient Near East in the Bronze Age. The role of ideology is noted throughout. Chapter seven addresses the hypotheses set forth in earlier chapters in an attempt to show how all Hebrew groupings were drawn together and molded into a nation under the idealisms of Yahwistic faith. This focus upon ideology seems to justify views which affirm that the Hebrews did conquer the land of Palestine in a gradual, protracted process. It also helps us to understand how they were motivated and united in this goal.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season