In God's Shadow Politics in the Hebrew Bible Michael Walzer

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
05 Jun 2012
ISBN:
9780300180442
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
256 pages: 235 x 156 x 24mm

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In this eagerly awaited book, political theorist Michael Walzer reports his findings after decades of thinking about the politics of the Hebrew Bible. Attentive to nuance while engagingly straightforward, Walzer examines the laws, the histories, the prophecies, and the wisdom of the ancient biblical writers and discusses their views on such central political questions as justice, hierarchy, war, the authority of kings and priests, and the experience of exile.

Because there are many biblical writers with differing views, pluralism is a central feature of biblical politics. Yet pluralism, Walzer observes, is never explicitly defended in the Bible; indeed, it couldn't be defended since God's word had to be as singular as God himself. Yet different political regimes are described in the biblical texts, and there are conflicting political arguments - and also a recurrent anti-political argument: if you have faith in God, you have no need for strong institutions, prudent leaders, or reformist policies. At the same time, however, in the books of law and prophecy, the people of Israel are called upon to overcome oppression and "let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream".

Michael Walzer is professor (emeritus) of social science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ. He is the author of twenty-seven books and more than three hundred articles on political theory and moral philosophy, and he has served as coeditor of the journal Dissent for some fifty years. He lives in Princeton.

"In the story of how the modern West evolved beyond sacral kingship, there is a Greco-Roman strand and a Hebrew strand. Walzer offers a penetrating account of the Hebrew strand in its many ramifications, with all the insight and sense of nuance that distinguish him as a political theorist." - Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age and Dilemmas and Connections

"In God's Shadow is elegant and erudite. Anyone interested in assessing the ideas about politics, government and law in the Bible should read it." - Glenn C. Altschuler, Jerusalem Post

"Judicial and refreshing… [Walzer’s] observations on the successive stages of Israel’s historical development through the periods of the judges, monarchy, exile and restoration are both shrewd and perceptive and never over-simplified.” - Anthony Phillips, Church Times