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The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

According to a commonplace narrative, the rise of modern political thought in the West resulted from secularization--the exclusion of religious arguments from political discourse. But in this pathbreaking work, Eric Nelson argues that this familiar story is wrong. Instead, he contends, political thought in early-modern Europe became less, not more, secular with time, and it was the Christian encounter with Hebrew sources that provoked this radical transformation.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christian scholars began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God for the children of Israel. Newly available rabbinic materials became authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of the perfect republic. This thinking resulted in a sweeping reorientation of political commitments. In the book's central chapters, Nelson identifies three transformative claims introduced into European political theory by the Hebrew revival: the argument that republics are the only legitimate regimes; the idea that the state should coercively maintain an egalitarian distribution of property; and the belief that a godly republic would tolerate religious diversity. One major consequence of Nelson's work is that the revolutionary politics of John Milton, James Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes appear in a brand-new light.

Nelson demonstrates that central features of modern political thought emerged from an attempt to emulate a constitution designed by God. This paradox, a reminder that while we may live in a secular age, we owe our politics to an age of religious fervor, in turn illuminates fault lines in contemporary political discourse.

Synopsis:

2012 Laura Shannon Prize, Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame

Synopsis:

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010

About the Author

Eric Nelsonis the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor of <>Government, Harvard University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674050587
Author:
Nelson, Eric
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Author:
Nelson, Eric M.
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Political science -- Europe -- History.
Subject:
Jews -- Politics and government -- To 70 A.D.
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
Judaism - History
Subject:
Constitutions
Subject:
Religion, Politics & State
Subject:
History & Theory
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
RELIGION / Judaism/History
Subject:
Political Science-Constitutions
Subject:
Political Science-Political Ideologies - General
Subject:
RELIGION / Christianity/History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
March 2010
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought New Hardcover
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Product details 240 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674050587 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 2012 Laura Shannon Prize, Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame
"Synopsis" by , A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010
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