Cultural Hegemony and the Power of Sacred Texts


According to Antonio Gramsci, cultural hegemony is “the ‘spontaneous’ consent given by the great masses of the population to the […] dominant fundamental group” (Prison Notebooks), and primarily results from people’s exposure to the ruling elites’ narratives and metanarratives. Cultural hegemony, however, is never achieved once and for all, insofar as the creation of counter-hegemony discourses, aimed at subverting the hegemonic ideology and creating alternative worldviews, remains a viable option. From this perspective, literature is “an agent as well as an effect of such struggles,” as Eagleton puts it (Criticism and Ideology), in the sense that literature is simultaneously one of the many instruments for building hegemony and counter-hegemony, and a mirror reflecting social and ideological tensions.

Since the Hebrew Bible embeds different and even contrasting lines of thought, we intend to investigate to what extent the tensions between biblical texts reflect the conflict between different ideologies struggling for social, religious, and political power in Second Temple Judaism, namely struggling to either create/maintain or subvert cultural hegemony. Within this framework, we inquire into the production, redaction, transmission, and reception of biblical texts in Second Temple Judaism as literary activities infused with ideology and, through textual analysis, we aim to shed new light on the ideologies at stake.


Cultural Hegemony, Second Temple Judaism, Literature and Its Social Impact, Redaction Criticism, Reception Criticism

Current Term:



Benedetta Rossi
Pontifical Biblical Institute

Danilo Verde
KU Leuven

Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

For the 2024 EABS Annual Conference we intend to have two sessions: an invited panel to present the forthcoming edited volume "Cultural Hegemony, Ideological Conflicts, and Power in Second Temple Judaism" (BETL; Peeters 2024); and a session about social groups and their ideologies behind the Hebrew Bible and cognate literature. We accept proposals for the second session. In order to be considered, abstracts need to contain the following elements: scope, main thesis, case study, methodology, and relevance of the proposal.