Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Old Testament Anarchism

NPR interviews the author of a new book who argues that the "history of Israel, from the creation story to the dissolution and dismemberment of a decadent monarchy, ... is a cautionary tale, an epic that advocates wariness of great imperial powers and individualism in the face of authority" — An Individualist Approach To The Hebrew Bible.

The author says, "It begins with individuals like Abraham and Joseph, and then builds up to a people which goes about trying to live, first without a state and then with a kingdom. " He explains how "this long, long narrative from Genesis to Kings, over and over again, presents people either as shepherds or as farmers" and the "history of conflict between them." Suggesting that "the shepherd stands for people who live outside of society, on the hills," the author says, "They make law for themselves, they seek God for themselves, and they're autonomous. It's almost an anarchical message."

Tolle, lege. Frank Chodorov's classic piece on the transition from the rule of judges to kings comes to mind — What Samuel Said about Solomon.

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