Lindy Williams, B.S. (United States Military Academy), MA (Fuller Theological Seminary)

Gardens in Ezekiel: A Changing Theology of Sacred Space in Response to the Challenge of Exile (NTC)

Sacred space is particularly important in the context of the Babylonian exile because everything that defines Israel appears to be gone. This exile creates a difficult historical and cultural challenge because conquered nations are generally assimilated into the holdings of their victor, their culture and religion then fading into the past. The book of Ezekiel holds a strategic place in the text in terms of witnessing both the before and after, ‘before’ in the memory of the exiles, and ‘after’ through Ezekiel’s imagination and attempts at redefining identity. My project is exploring how Ezekiel uses narrative (the Eden Garden specifically) to redefine the future. 

I am combing both spatial theory- Edward Soja’s thirdspace, Human Geography’s place/space dichotomy- and Wesley Kort’s approach to narrative as soteriological to craft my methodology. Through this lens I am exploring how Ezekiel utilizes the Eden Garden narrative in the space of exile to craft a new understanding of future ‘place’ for his marginalized, exilic audience. There is something important about the space of the Eden Garden- both physically and ideologically- that he chooses to focus on in chapters 28, 31, 36 and then the temple vision in chapter 47.