Politics and the state

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Between Political Philosophy And Political Theology Biblical and rabbinic literature deal with temporal political issues in various contexts. These canonical texts do have a clear position in the sphere of political theology; however, they do not contain any political philosophy in the strict sense of that term. What interests the writers are questions of the relationship between God and humans, often portrayed in political terms; God is called “king” and “judge,” and agreements between God and humans are described in terms of legal agreements between rulers and their subjects (such as brit (covenant) and amanah (contract)). Experience with relationships between human rulers and their subjects in the temporal world is superimposed on the descriptions of human relationships with the divine. Because divine revelation is described as the giving of the law (Torah) to a specific group of humans, it has a clearly political context. We also have more narrowly legal-halakhic discussions with their far-reaching political ramifications, but they do not constitute an organized body of political thinking per se in the strict Greek sense, which deals theoretically and universally with the political nature of men, classifies different kinds of government, and identifies the ultimate purpose of political existence. In any case, distinct Jewish political thought appears only when biblical and rabbinic political theology encounter Greek political philsophy. The first encounter, an isolated instance, takes place in the Hellenistic period, when Philo of Alexandria describes the leadership of Moses in terms of the Platonic philosopher-king.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Antiquity Through the Seventeenth Century
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139055956
ISBN (Print)9780521843232
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009 and Cambridge University Press, 2008.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Politics and the state'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this