“The range of plausible readings of the Bible, when placed in a theological frame, is extremely wide.”

And in this light, it is no longer so clear that the Bible does foster an indifference or hostility toward politics. Anarchists and pacifists may still find good sources for their anti-political radicalism in the Bible, but that is not the only reading to which the book now lends itself. The readings of the prophets that helped underwrite liberationist theology, for instance — in the Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen, as well as the later Christian groups who described themselves that way — may look far-fetched from a historical perspective, but are not so from a theological one. Social conservatives can legitimately quote the Bible as well. The range of plausible readings of the Bible, when placed in a theological frame, is extremely wide. They can certainly not be limited to the thought that those who see themselves as living “in God’s shadow” should regard politics as futile or meaningless.

Sam Fleischacker, review of Michael Walzer, In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible, Yale University Press, 2012.

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