21 October 2009

Book: "Political Theologies in the Holy Land"

A number of books on political theology in Israel and Jewish political theology have been released recently or about to be released by authors and editors associated with the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and in particular with a former study group/research programme of the latter on political theology, which was discontinued about two years ago.

Among them, David Ohana (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) wrote a book on "Political Theologies in the Holy Land: Israeli Messianism and Its Critics" (Routledge, 15 October 2009):


Publisher's description: "This book examines the role of messianism in Zionist ideology, from the birth of the Zionist movement through to the present. Is shows how messianism is not just a religious or philosophical term but a very tangible political practice and theology which has shaped Israeli identity.

"The author explores key issues such as: the current presence of messianism in the Israeli public sphere and the debates with [J]ewish settlers in the occupied territories after the 1967 war; the difference between transcendental messianism and [P]romethean messianism; the disparity between the political ideology and political practice in the history of Israel; the evolution of the messianic idea in the actions of David Ben-Gurion; the debate between Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Isaiah Leibowitz, J.L. Talmon and other intellectual figures with Ben-Gurion; the implications of political theology and the presence of messianic ideas in Israeli politics.

"As the first book to examine the messianism in Israeli debate since the creation of the Israeli state, it will be particularly relevant for students and scholars of Political Science, modern intellectual history, Israel studies, Judaism and messianism."

Those able to read Hebrew may be equally interested in a recent book edited by Christoph Schmidt (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and co-edited by Eli Schonfeld (University of Tel Aviv and Hebrew University): "Ha-Elohim lo yealem dom: ha-moderna ha-yehudit ve-ha-teologia ha-politit" (God will not stand still: Jewish modernity and political theology; Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 2009).


According to a review of this book in today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, it appears to be on exactly the same subject matter as the book by Ohana, who is present with a chapter in Schmidt's collection.

The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and Hakibbutz Hameuchad also just published "State of exception and state of emergency" (translation), edited by Yehouda Shenhav, Christoph Schmidt and Shimshon Zelniker. Presumably this book too is on political theology. Unfortunately, I don't have the original Hebrew title.

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