Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview

Introduction

A dispassionate reading of the Mosaic Bible, known variously as the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, or the Torah, will in this writer’s opinion lead to the conclusion that it is first and foremost a library of essentially political teachings and documents. 1 The primary concern of this cohesive collection is with establishing an ideological framework within which a unique society and civilization might emerge and flourish. It may be useful to recall at this point that the notion of civilization is itself a political idea. A civilization is the morally authoritative institutional infrastructure that facilitates the flowering of society and culture by establishing and enforcing patterns of civil relationships, in effect, by civilizing human behavior.

Because of its essentially political orientation, it should come as no surprise that there is very little doctrinal theology to be found in the Pentateuch. The primary subject of the work is man rather than God. It presupposes the existence of God, who is described as the creator of the universe, but tells us virtually nothing about the divine. Although theologians have been reading their beliefs and predilections into the biblical texts for some two millennia, sometimes rather ingeniously, the simple fact is that there is little in the Mosaic canon that reasonably lends itself to such theological interpretations. This is not to suggest that the biblical text cannot be read from a variety of perspectives, as has traditionally been the case in the long history of biblical interpretation. Ambiguities in the text certainly do encourage speculative

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Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1 - The Emergence of Man 1
  • Chapter 2 - Man Against God: the Myth of the Primal Sin 25
  • Chapter 3 - Man Against Man: Cain and Abel 43
  • Chapter 4 - Man Against Society: the Generation of the Flood 63
  • Chapter 5 - Cleaning the Slate: the Deluge 81
  • Chapter 6 - Beginning Anew 101
  • Notes 117
  • Chapter 7 - Society Astray: the Tower of Babel 119
  • Chapter 8 - Another Beginning 139
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 151
  • About the Author 153
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