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War, Memory, and National Identity in the Hebrew Bible


  • Date Published: July 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108480895

£ 79.99

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About the Authors
  • The Hebrew Bible is permeated with depictions of military conflicts that have profoundly shaped the way many think about war. Why does war occupy so much space in the Bible? In this book, Jacob Wright offers a fresh and fascinating response to this question: War pervades the Bible not because ancient Israel was governed by religious factors (such as 'holy war') or because this people, along with its neighbors in the ancient Near East, was especially bellicose. The reason is rather that the Bible is fundamentally a project of constructing a new national identity for Israel, one that can both transcend deep divisions within the population and withstand military conquest by imperial armies. Drawing on the intriguing interdisciplinary research on war commemoration, Wright shows how biblical authors, like the architects of national identities from more recent times, constructed a new and influential notion of peoplehood in direct relation to memories of war, both real and imagined. This book is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

    • Demonstrates how the biblical authors worked in the framework of a common narrative to create a new political identity
    • Includes inter-disciplinary and comparative perspectives, including 'war commemoration' and brings the biblical narratives into conversation with political theory and political theology
    • Highlights distinctive features of the biblical corpus, and reflects on persisting concerns for political communities including kinship, marginalized others, volunteerism, and conflict resolution
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book is a welcome follow-up to the author's previous volume (David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory) [Cambridge, 2014] … The highlight of the work, however, is its thoroughgoing interdisciplinary character. Wright has provided an exemplar of the interdisciplinary study that should mark today's engagements with biblical warfare texts. This interdisciplinarity includes engagement with political theory and philosophy, sociology, anthropology, classical Greek literature, and international law. Readers of this monograph will find both a compelling technical approach to specific biblical texts and an invitation to a broader social and cultural conversation much needed in our time.' Brad E. Kelle, Society Of Biblical Literature

    'This monograph is impressively erudite as well as densely written, citing widely from a plethora of ancient and more recent sources. For all this, it is also readable and enjoyable.' Johanna Stiebert, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108480895
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part 1. Refugee Memories: Negotiating Relations and Borders to Neighboring States
    1. Passages to Peace
    2. Edom as Israel's Other
    Part 2. Kinship and Commandment: The Transjordanian Tribes and the Conquest of Canaan
    3. Mapping the Promised Land
    4. The Nation's Transjordanian Vanguard
    5. A Nation Beyond Its Borders
    6. Kinship, Law, and Narrative
    Part 3. Rahab: An Archetypal Outsider
    7. Between Faith and Works
    8. The Composition of the Rahab Story
    9. Rahab's Courage and the Gibeonites' Cowardice
    Part 4. Deborah: Mother of a Voluntary Nation
    10. A Prophet and Her General
    11. A Poetic War Monument
    12. A National Anthem for the North
    13. Women and War Commemoration
    14. Jael's Identities.

  • Author

    Jacob L. Wright, Emory University, Atlanta
    Jacob L. Wright is a professor at Emory University in the Candler School of Theology. He writes on a wide array of topics, ranging from material culture to commensality and urbicide. His first book, Rebuilding Identity (De Gruyter, 2003), won the Templeton Prize, and his most recent book, David, King of Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2014), won the ASOR Nancy Lapp Popular Book Award. His free online course (The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future) consistently ranks among the top online courses in the humanities.

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