In God’s Shad­ow: Pol­i­tics in the Hebrew Bible

Michael Walz­er
  • Review
By – May 30, 2013
Michael Walzer’s writ­ing on pol­i­tics has helped shaped our under­stand­ing of pow­er, war, and the moral­i­ty of polit­i­cal soci­ety. With In God’s Shad­ow he has penned a cre­ative and engag­ing work about the Bible, approach­ing the Bible as a polit­i­cal trea­tise and then metic­u­lous­ly unveil­ing the great­ness of the Book of Books. 

At the out­set Pro­fes­sor Walz­er, who is emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor at the Insti­tute for Advanced Study at Prince­ton, explains one of the great­est prob­lems schol­ars encounter in ana­lyz­ing the Bible: Who wrote it? From his read­ing it is clear that, on the one hand, he feels that there were a series of writ­ers and edi­tors who have com­plete­ly dif­fer­ing points of view on pol­i­tics. But then Walz­er is struck by the con­sis­tent theme of plu­ral­ism found through­out the Bible — even in those parts in which he has con­clud­ed that the edi­tors and authors were them­selves not plu­ral­is­tic. This is what Walz­er refers to as an inclu­sive char­ac­ter­is­tic” of the Bible. 

Walz­er sees the Bible as a series of inher­ent con­tra­dic­tions that, in his words, cry out for engage­ment.” For Walz­er the Bible is more of an anthol­o­gy than a uni­fied text and, as such, the edi­tors did not wor­ry about agree­ment. When read­ing In God’s Shad­ow one can feel Walz­er work­ing through the texts. Walz­er the author invites read­ers along on a seri­ous but engag­ing, con­ver­sa­tion about a sub­ject that is extreme­ly dear and impor­tant to him. And he wants his read­ers to be as moved and inspired as he is. 

In God’s Shad­ow will be enjoyed by any­one inter­est­ed in ele­vat­ing their read­ing of the Bible and for every­one who wants to engage with one of the world’s finest thinkers about a work as impor­tant as the Bible. 
Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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