Academic crowd sourcing

I write this with the sense that I am in some way cheating, but if David Pogue can write an entire book via Twitter (in which one of my tweets is quoted) then perhaps I can call upon the greater knowledge and wisdom of the biblioblogging world to aid me in some research.

This SBL I was asked to present a paper for the Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah section on exile and return. We are, of course, meeting in New Orleans which had been our home for 9 years, including the Year of Katrina. The suggestion is that I should reflect on the biblical return from exile and upon the efforts to restore NOLA. My initial thoughts had been to examine the promulgation of the Law (Scripture) as a means of reestablishing order, not so much in terms of civil order but rather in terms of social and spiritual order (stability). As I have ruminated on this I am drawn instead to the celebration of Sukkot described in Neh. 8:13ff. Is it simply being celebrated “as scheduled” (Lev. 23, Deut. 16) or perhaps in keeping with Deut. 31:10ff, making the preceding period of exile an extended “year of remission”?

In other words, I am considering (for the moment at least) that the celebration of Sukkot described in Nehemiah [mfn]We can leave aside questions of historicity for now.[/mfn] may be more than simple fulfillment of the Law. Rather it is intended specifically with the reformation of the community in mind. In that case all of Neh. 7-9 should be read in the context of Deut. 31, making the exile the year of remission and thus a time of purification.

And this is where I ask your help. I am sure there must be sociological (and other) works out there that talk about the reestablishment of ritual as a coping mechanism, but I have no clue where to begin to look for such works. Any bibliographic suggestions? Or comments on my observations above? If this field has already been plowed I will not waste anyone’s time with it, but my reading on this is just beginning.

Any help will be gratefully received (and credited!).

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