Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought


By (author) Joshua A. Berman


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 18mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 24 October 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199832404
  • ISBN 13: 9780199832408
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 702,136

Product description

In Created Equal, Joshua Berman engages the text of the Hebrew Bible from a novel perspective, considering it 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. What emerges is the blueprint for a society that would stand in stark contrast to the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East - Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ugarit, and the Hittite Empire - in which the hierarchical structure of the polity was centered on the figure of the king and his retinue. Berman shows that an egalitarian ideal is articulated in comprehensive fashion in the Pentateuch 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 ancient developments. Thus, for example, the constitutional principles in the Book of Deuteronomy are examined in the light of those 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 A. Berman is Professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an Associate Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Review quote

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 ; Chapter One: Egalitarian Theology: The Commoner's Upgrade from King's Servant to Servant King ; Chapter Two: Egalitarian Politics: Constitution, Class, and the Book of Deuteronomy ; Chapter Three: Egalitarianism and Assets: God the Economist ; Chapter Four: Egalitarian Technology: Alphabet, Text, and Class ; Chapter Five: Egalitarianism and the Evolution of Narrative: The Rescue of Moses (Exodus 2:1-10) and the Sargon Legend Compared ; Conclusion: Egalitarianisms Ancient and Modern ; Notes ; Select Bibliography ; Index of Scriptural References ; Subject Index