Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

Hardback

By (author) Joshua A. Berman

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 236mm x 25mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 13 October 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195374703
  • ISBN 13: 9780195374704
  • Sales rank: 560,686

Product description

Joshua Berman engages the text of the Hebrew Bible from a novel perspective - as a document of social and political thought. He proposes that the Pentateuch can be read as the earliest prescription on record for the establishment of an egalitarian polity. The blueprint that emerges is that of a society that would stand in stark contrast to the social orders found in the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East - Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ugarit, and the Hittite Empire - where the hierarchical structure of the polity was centered on the figure of the king and his retinue. Berman shows that the Pentateuch's egalitarian ideal is articulated in comprehensive fashion and is expressed in its theology, politics, economics, use of technologies of communication, and in its narrative literature. Throughout, he invokes parallels from the modern period as heuristic devices to illuminate the ancient developments under study. Thus, for example, the constitutional principles in the Book of Deuteronomy are examined in the light of principles espoused by Montesquieu, and the rise of the novel in 18th-century England serves to illuminate the advent of new modes of storytelling in biblical narrative.

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Author information

Joshua Berman was raised in New York City and attended Princeton University as an undergraduate where he received his B.A. in Religion. After emigrating to Israel in 1987, he received ordination as an orthodox rabbi, and pursued doctoral studies in Bible at Bar-Ilan University. He lectures in Bible at Bar-Ilan University and at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, where he was a research fellow during the 2004-06 academic years.

Review quote

This is a significant work... for its consistent pursuit of a single idea, for the breadth of the front on which it pursues it, and for the originality of some of its insights. W.J. Houston, Society for Old Testament Study Booklist for the gutsiness of his intellectual convictions and for playing a major role in bringing the harvest of biblical scholarship to a much broader audience, we are in Joshua Berman's debt. Bernard M. Levinson, Journal of Theological Studies

Table of contents

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ; INTRODUCTION ; 1. Egalitarian Theology: The Commoners Upgrade from Kings Servant to Servant King ; 2. Egalitarian Politics: Constitution, Class and the Book of Deuteronomy ; 3. Egalitarianism and Assets: God the Economist ; 4. Egalitarian Technology: Alphabet, Text and Class ; 5. Egalitarianism and the Evolution of Narrative: The Rescue of Moses (Exodus 2:1-10) and the Legend of Sargon Compared ; CONCLUSION: EGALITARIANISMS ANCIENT AND MODERN