Brody on Halbertal and Holmes, 'The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel'
Author: Moshe Halbertal, Stephen Holmes
Reviewer: Sam Brody
Moshe Halbertal, Stephen Holmes. The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. 232 pp. $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-691-17462-4.
Reviewed by Sam Brody (University of Kansas) Published on H-Judaic (July, 2018) Commissioned by Katja Vehlow (University of South Carolina)
Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=51066
There is a long tradition of claiming that politics and political theory in the West belong to Athens, rather than to Jerusalem, and another tradition just as long of rebutting this claim. Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes join the latter tradition with their new work, The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel. The book will sit nicely on the shelf next to Eric Nelson’s The Hebrew Republic (2010) and Michael Walzer’s In God’s Shadow (2012). The former argues for the centrality of the Hebrew Bible in general and Samuel/Kings in particular to seventeenth-century European political theory, and the latter asserts that the absolute dominance of God in the life of ancient Israel left no room for the development of an autonomous human political sphere. Halbertal and Holmes have set themselves the task of rejecting the latter claim, and judging by Walzer’s blurb (“a wonderful discovery”), they appear to have convinced him.
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