Re: [biblical-studies] Fwd: [agade] eREVIEWS: Of "The Invention of the Jewish People"
- Dear Frank,
thanks much for this review, which, however, does not refute much of Sand's arguments but instead expresses its disagreement with them. When the reviewer indicates:
"There are many such twists of historical logic and strategic evasions of modern research in this book. To list them all would try your patience. Scholarly consensus now places the creation of the earliest books of the Old Testament not in
the 6th or 5th centuries BC, but in the 9th century BC, home-grown in a Judah which had
been transformed, as Israel
Finkelstein has written “into a developed nation state”. The post-David kingdom of the 10th century BC may have
been a pastoral warrior citadel, but the most recent excavations
by Amihai Mazar have revealed it capable of building monumental
structures. And the Judah in which the bible was first forged, its
population swollen with refugees from the hard-pressed northern kingdom of Israel, was a culture that needed a text to bring together
territory, polity and religion. It was a moment of profound cultural
That may be the consensus, but it's wrong, as I show in my The Emergence of Israel in Ancient Palestine, Chapter 5 (http://www.equinoxpub.com/books/showbook.asp?bkid=381&keyword=).
Regarding Sand's handling of issues like modern nation-building and the creation of national myths, his arguments seem to follow what major historians of these questions argue: see E.J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism from 1780 (Cambridge 1990), and A.-M. Thiesse, La creation des identités nationales: Europe XVIIIe siècle--XXe siècle (Paris 1999), for example.
No doubt, Sand's book is provocative--at times pamphletary in its tone--but the overall argument seems to be sound. No professional historian would be surprised with nations being created/invented 200 years ago; and no professional anthropologist would be surprised if the bases of a particular ethnicity are shown to be shaky and against any essentialism. The political consequences of all this, I believe, go beyond the purposes of the lists.
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