The Solomonic Kingdom as a Cultural Fantasy of the Imperialized Yehudites
Wong, Sonia Kwok
Although many biblical scholars agree that Deuteronomy-Kings emerged from imperial contexts as a literary production of the subjugated Judeans or Yehudites, the effects of imperialism on the psychology of the imperialized and their signifying practice have not been given due attention in the historical-critical approach. This study fills the lacunae by employing a postcolonial-psychoanalytic perspective to probe these relations in the cultural production of the Solomonic Kingdom (1 Kgs 1:1–12:24) as an episodic narrative within the larger Deuteronomistic (Hi)Story. It takes into consideration the role that imperialism played in the formation, suppression, and repression of desires and psychic conflicts among the Deuteronomist (the authorial collective) and their Yehudite readers/auditors, with the assumption that imperialism-conditioned unconscious forces governed their signifying activities. The text’s plausible meanings for the Yehudites are sought by situating its marks, signs, and symbols in their signifying context. This study establishes that, based on its shared features with Greek historiography and ancient Southwest Asian literature, the Deuteronomistic (Hi)story is a cumulative, composite text that originated in the late fourth-century-BCE Persian Yehud. It may be called an " epic history, " fraught with fragmentary, displaced elements historically identifiable in different imperial periods commingled with fictive elements. Through a contemporary Freudian model of fantasy as a disguised fulfillment for a repressed wish, the study argues that the Solomonic Kingdom is a cultural fantasy that bespeaks the imperialized Yehudites’ ambivalent wish to take the dominant, privileged position of the Persian imperializer through a pacifist mode of domination and simultaneously to critique the imperializer’s oppressive traits. It provides a detailed textual analysis of the fantasy-thoughts, traces the fantasy-sources to the original signifying context, and describes the psychic mechanisms involved in the fantasy-work, which include condensation, displacement, overdetermination, introjective identification, subject-object reversal, and projection/introjection. The cultural fantasy may bear a cathartic effect (as a wish satisfier) and an ideological, narcotic impact (as a need pacifier) on the Yehudites. It provides a compensatory means to gratify inexpressible wishes but simultaneously serves to contain imperial-resistant sentiments within the permissible outlet of fantasizing.