Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

By Joshua A. Berman | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Egalitarianisms Ancient and Modern

This has been a book about an idea—the egalitarian impulse found in the warp and woof of the books of the Pentateuch. In a larger sense, however, this has been an exploration of an assumption: that we may fruitfully engage a religious text such as the Hebrew Bible in search of political teachings. That this line of inquiry has not been more developed within modern scholarship would seem to be rooted in particularly contemporary predispositions. The notion of the separation between church and state is fundamental to the functioning of pluralistic, multicultural democracies. Yet in a peculiar fashion, it would seem that this notion has conditioned our modes of thinking, corralling us into a philosophical bifurcation. Fitted with blinders that split religion and state into separate realms, we view our intellectual and cultural heritage accordingly. When we look for the ancient antecedents of our legal history, the earliest formulations of political science and the beginnings of constitutional theory, we look—in exclusive fashion—toward ancient Greece. And when we look for the earliest sources of our notion of monotheistic belief, moral teachings and individual piety, we look—again in exclusive fashion—toward the Hebrew Bible. This study has been a call to remove those blinders, and to see once again how the religious and the political in the Hebrew Bible must be viewed as part of an inseparable whole, if that work is to be properly understood.1

I have traced the way the passages of the Pentateuch transformed preexisting concepts and institutions in the social and

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Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Egalitarian Theology 15
  • 2 - Egalitarian Politics 51
  • 3 - Egalitarianism and Assets 81
  • 4 - Egalitarian Technology 109
  • 5 - Egalitarianism and the Evolution of Narrative 135
  • Conclusion 167
  • Notes 177
  • Select Bibliography 223
  • Index of Scriptural - References 243
  • Subject Index 247
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