It is with great pleasure that I pass along the news that my book, The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A New Theory of People, Exile, and Israelite Identity has been accepted by Cambridge University Press and should be published by the end of 2020.
This book represents over a decade of work, and to say I’m looking forward to seeing it in the wild would be an understatement. A basic abstract of the project follows:
This study examines how the concept of “Israel” was constructed and contested among Jews, Samaritans, and others in the Second Temple Period (roughly 515 BCE–70 CE), as different sects and groups laid claim to the heritage of biblical Israel and differentiated themselves from others doing the same.
Through exhaustive analysis of early Jewish and Samaritan evidence, the books demonstrate that (contrary to the assumptions of most modern scholarship) the terms “Israelite” and “Jew” were not synonymous in Second Temple Period. Instead, the most common view reflected in early Jewish sources is that the Jews are only a subset of the larger body of Israel, namely the descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah. Samaritans, by contrast, neither called themselves Jews nor were they regarded as such by others, but they did consider themselves Israelites, with different Jewish groups having varying responses to this claim. Moreover, the study demonstrates that the continued distinction between “Jews” and “Israelites” in Jewish literature frequently seems to reflect continuing hopes for a future restoration of reconstituted twelve-tribe Israel including the northern tribes of Israel scattered by the Assyrians in the eighth century BCE.
The project thereby introduces a new model for understanding the relationship between the terms “Israelite” and “Jew,” a problem that has drawn increased attention in recent scholarship. In the process, this study helps contextualize the variety of eschatological views that appear in Jewish literature from the Second Temple Period, correcting several recent scholarly trends in this area.
I am especially pleased that the book will be priced affordably, between $35–45 per hardback copy.