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Not God's People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World - Religion in the Modern World 1 (Hardback)
  • Not God's People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World - Religion in the Modern World 1 (Hardback)

Not God's People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World - Religion in the Modern World 1 (Hardback)

Hardback 268 Pages / Published: 02/05/2008
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Using an array of biblical texts from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Not God's People explores how ancient Jews and Christians created their own identity in relation to others. The book analyzes how biblical texts define 'us' and 'them,' how these texts differ in the way they define group identity, and how this process continues to be re-created by Jews and Christians today.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780742562493
Number of pages: 268
Weight: 513 g
Dimensions: 240 x 161 x 23 mm

Meticulous in its reconstruction of competing and shifting ideologies of self and other through time and space, up-to-date and wide-ranging, theoretically sophisticated, clear and concise, and a pleasure to read, Not God's People will prove to be a valuable book for both students and specialists. -- Saul M. Olyan, Brown University
At the beginning of the 21st century it becomes increasingly difficult to read the Bible exclusively in terms of the covenantal insiders to whom it is addressed. In this book, Lawrence Wills has provided an important means of approaching the question of those regarded as outside of the covenant-those whom the biblical authors construct as the Other. Through nuanced research and insightful prose, Not God's People is an invaluable resource to students, scholars, and anyone interested in the Bible's continuing influence in shaping perceptions of the Other in Western culture. -- Shelly Matthews, Furman University
How should religious adherents deal with those who do not share their faith? No topic could be more topical in today's globalized environment, or more important. Larry Wills' incisive, well-informed, and fluidly-written book provides essential background by tracing the attitudes of the biblical writers to those outside the fold, the 'others' against whom they define themselves. One of Wills' most important conclusions can be summed up in the immortal words of Walt Kelly's Pogo: 'We have met the enemy and he is us.' -- Joel Marcus, Duke Divinity School
In this intriguing study Lawrence Wills explores how biblical writers constructed national identity by formulating images of others. Grounded in the latest scholarship in biblical studies, cultural studies, and the social sciences, Wills' readings bring a fresh and comparative perspective to texts we thought we understood. -- Robert Cohn, Lafayette College
Successfully balancing between accessibility and erudition, Not God's People is not only excellent for upper-division classroom and seminary use, but is a potentially important resource for those interested in interfaith discussion, offering insight into the origins of religious prejudice and the formation of Jewish and Christian identity. Not God's People will not minimize the differences between religious communities today, but its historical and literary analyses will certainly help readers better understand why there can be no sense of religious community without those differences. -- Steven Weitzman, Indiana University, Bloomington
Not God's People, spanning both Hebrew Bible and New Testament, combines solid historical scholarship, sophisticated theoretical reflection and contemporary relevance. An impressive achievement! -- John J. Collins, Yale University
This provocative volume is an enlightening study of the interpenetration of religious ideology and social identity, and an unnerving reminder of the destructive potential of some kinds of religiously grounded creativity. As such, it provides a valuable resource for individuals and groups, within and outside the communities of faith, who are concerned about the polarizing constructions of 'the other' that often permeate contemporary religion, politics, and social and international relations. -- George W. E. Nickelsburg, The University of Iowa
In this clearly written, well-organized, and articulately argued monograph, Wills offers a theoretical introductory chapter, a wide-ranging reflection on the Hebrew Bible's construction of the Other, some brief concluding remarks, and studies of the following biblical texts: Ezra-Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Matthew, John, the Pauline corpus, and Acts. W. combines acute textual skills with a set of nine social-scientific theorems to elucidate hwo groups, both ancient and modern, construct the Other and in turn conceive of their own identity in relation to the Other. . . . There is no doubt that W. has produced an important book on a timely topic. * Catholic Biblical Quarterly *
This very interesting book traces the development of Israel's national identity. . . . Methods from historical criticism, the social sciences, and culture studies are employed in this carefully researched study. The book throws necessary light on ways that those who adhere to one religious tradition view those who adhere to another. * The Bible Today *
Not God's People shows that in different times and different cultural settings the essence of the Other is always different, but the construction of the Other always uses the same patterns . . . A worthy contribution to the series Religion in the Modern World . . . A very accessible book . . . Not God's People deals with texts that often raise more questions than answers, such as the order to completely extinguish other people or the condemnation of the Jews in the New Testament. Wills shows in a convincing way that those texts are often more complex and nuanced than we assume. * Review of Biblical Literature *
This important book can help us to understand the complex role that the construction of the Other can play in identity formation.... This well-written and engaging book will be of interest to scholars and general readers alike. It is not only an excellent study in biblical exegesis and thought, but also has implications for the ongoing relationship between identity and the Other in our own times. * Interpretation *
Wills writes from a theoretically informed position that specialists will find provocative and engaging, yet his clear prose ensures that his book will also be a useful resource for advanced undergraduates. * Religious Studies Review *
In investigating various biblical texts, Wills, professor of biblical studies at Episcopal Divin- ity School in Cambridge, MA, asks the following questions: How is the outsider defined? Is the insider defined as the opposite of the outsider? How does this define God and community in each case? and Does this also define some people within the community who are likened to the outside enemy? After a nineteen-page introduction, he treats the following topics: the beginning of difference and the origin of others in the Hebrew Bible; the redefinition of "we" and "other" in Ezra-Nehemiah; Judaism and Hellenism in 1 and 2 Maccabees; "scribes and Pharisees, hypo- crites!" in Matthew's Gospel; the Jews in John's Gospel; Jew and Gentile as other in Paul; and the other in Acts. Wills concludes that constructing the "other" is a fundamental part of what it means to be human; and that the problem comes when humans refuse to grant that their views of the other are constructions, and that these constructions form the basis of the ordering of society. * New Testament Abstracts *

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