The Jewish Political Tradition Volume I: Authority Michael Walzer, Menachem Lorberbaum, Noam J. Zohar, Yair Lorberbaum, Yair Loberbaum

Publication date:
11 Dec 2003
Yale University Press
640 pages: 235 x 156mm
Sales territories:

This book launches a landmark four-volume collaborative work exploring the political thought of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present. Each volume includes a selection of texts—from the Bible and Talmud, midrashic literature, legal responsa, treatises, and pamphlets—annotated for modern readers and accompanied by new commentaries written by eminent philosophers, lawyers, political theorists, and other scholars working in different fields of Jewish studies. These contributors join the arguments of the texts, agreeing or disagreeing, elaborating, refining, qualifying, and sometimes repudiating the political views of the original authors. The series brings the little-known and unexplored Jewish tradition of political thinking and writing into the light, showing where and how it resonates in the state of Israel, the chief diaspora settlements, and, more broadly, modern political experience.

This first volume, Authority, addresses the basic question of who ought to rule the community: What claims to rule have been put forward from the time of the exodus from Egypt to the establishment of the state of Israel? How are such claims disputed and defended? What constitutes legitimate authority? The authors discuss the authority of God, then the claims of kings, priests, prophets, rabbis, lay leaders, gentile rulers (during the years of the exile), and the Israeli state. The volume concludes with several perspectives on the issue of whether a modern state can be both Jewish and democratic. Forthcoming volumes will address the themes of membership, community, and political vision.

Among the contributors to this volume:
Amy Gutmann
Moshe Halbertal
David Hartman
Moshe Idel
Sanford Levinson
Susan Neiman
Hilary Putnam
Joseph Raz
Michael Sandel
Allan Silver
Yael Tamir

Michael Walzer is UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Menachem Lorberbaum is senior lecturer in the department of Jewish philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Noam Zohar is senior lecturer in the department of philosophy at Bar Ilan University. Yair Lorberbaum is lecturer in the faculty of law at Bar Ilan University. All four editors are research fellows at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Chosen as a finalist for the 2000 National Jewish Book Awards in the Thought Category given by the Jewish Book Council

?[This book] both introduces a tradition of political thought that has until now been largely overlooked, and . . . at the same time contributes to this tradition. It describes how Jews have thought about governance, communal organization, and authority through the ages, and suggests how Jews ought to think about these things today. . . . The Jewish Political Tradition is remarkable for both what it does and how it does it. It is a splendid achievement. When Jews call themselves the people of the book, this is the sort of book they have, or at least ought to have, in mind.??Noah J. Efron, Boston Book Review

?An important contribution to understanding the relationship of Jewish traditional sources to political thought as applied to the state of Israel and the diaspora.??Choice

?In this first book of a four-volume series . . . the political arguments of two millennia are made accessible to a new generation of general readers. . . . Many of the medieval and modern texts are translated into English for the first time. . . . This highly comprehensive and scholarly work is recommended for academic libraries.??Library Journal

?The Jewish Political Tradition is one of the most ambitious Jewish intellectual efforts of recent years. . . . This book is quite novel?and on a grand scale.??David Novak, New Republic

?It is not often that one opens a book and knows without question that it will be immediately indispensable in its field. This anthology on authority in the Jewish political tradition and the three volumes to follow (on membership, community, and politics in history) not only will serve as essential references but will develop the contours of a field that is in infancy.??Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Perspectives on Political Science

?This is a pioneering work, and one can only hope the next volumes will emulate the meticulous standards of this superb volume.??Stephen D. Benin, Religious Studies Review

?The Jewish Political Tradition mounts an audacious, erudite, and important challenge to dominant interpretations of Jewish political history.??Julie E. Cooper, Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture, and Society

?Mr. Walzer and his collaborators have succeeded admirably, opening a new chapter in our understanding of Jewish experience and offering fresh perspectives on the abiding questions of politics everywhere.??Mark Lilla, Wall Street Journal

?This work is the most comprehensive attempt that has ever been undertaken to present a thematic compilation of the important texts of the Jewish political tradition. It is a monumental project.??Jeffrey Macy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem