We live in an age when it is not uncommon for politicians to invoke religious doctrine to explain their beliefs and positions on everything from domestic to foreign policy. And yet, many of us would be hard pressed to pinpoint the exact source of these political beliefs in the religious texts that are said to have spawned them. In Politics in the Hebrew Bible: God, Man, and Government, Kalman J. Kaplan and Matthew B. Schwartz offer a genre-straddling examination of the political themes in the Jewish Bible. By studying the political implications of 42 biblical stories (organized into the categories Social Order, Government and Leadership, Domestic Relations, Societal Relations, Morale and Mission, and Foreign Policy), the authors seek to discern a cohesive political viewpoint embodied by the Jewish Bible. Throughout the text, the views put forth in the Jewish Bible are compared to those put forth by Greco-Roman philosophers in order to argue that the Bible offers a worldview that fosters a "high degree of creative individualism within a supportive non-chaotic and well-functioning society". Kaplan and Schwartz are generous with their explanations of Greco-Roman philosophical concepts in the introductory chapters and with giving background information about the biblical stories engaged in the text.
Publisher: Jason Aronson Inc. Publishers
Number of pages: 218
Weight: 440 g
Dimensions: 235 x 160 x 21 mm
Schwartz and Kaplan succeed brilliantly in arguing, in a cogent and readable style, that the often conflicting mentalities regarding man's relationship with his fellow man and with God, found within the bible, do indeed add up to a coherent richly con-textured ethic of engagement with the real world. They further strengthen their position when they extend their scholarly exegesis to contrast, case by case, this biblical tradition with the more abstract, often impersonal, legal formulations emerging from the ancient Near East, from the Greeks and the Romans, as well as from their successor traditions in the modern world. This book is an essential read for those interested in how the bible stakes out an independent enduring ethical and legal tradition that undergirds the ethos of individualism in the modern world. -- Thomas H. Jobe, University of Illinois at Chicago
There seems to be wide-spread disillusionment with political leadership in today's world. People keep looking back to the past with nostalgia, invoking the names of some of the great leaders in recent and not so recent history. The authors of this book help us clarify our thinking about today's politics by guiding us through the stories and teachings of biblical leaders from Abraham and Moses to David and Solomon and the great prophets. They discuss biblical thought regarding the worth of every person, the role of society vis-a-vis its members, the attributes of the leader, war and peace, and the moral foundation of the God-centered biblical community. They make a compelling case for great American leaders like Washington and Lincoln and of social justice having their roots in the biblical tradition rather than in the other pillar of Western civilization, namely, the Greco-Roman polity and philosophy. -- Mordecai Schreiber, author of Hearing the Voice of God: In Search of Prophecy
A fascinating and hugely original exploration of the Hebrew bible as a comprehensive political codex addressing all spheres of public life, from the election of rulers and their desirable qualities, to the relationship between state and church, to political and foreign policy goals. A must read for anyone interested in understanding the full meaning of the Judaic-Christian legacy. -- Efraim Karsh, King's College London & Bar-Ilan University