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Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament

Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament: History, Hermeneutics, and Ideology

Will Stalder
Copyright Date: 2015
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  • Book Info
    Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament
    Book Description:

    The foundation of the modern State of Israel in 1948 is commemorated by many Palestinians as a day of catastrophe. Many Palestinian Christians claim that the nakba was also spiritually catastrophic: the characters, names, events, and places of the Old Testament took on new significance with the newly formed political state, which caused vast portions of the text to become unusable in their eyes and be abandoned. Stalder asks how Palestinian Christians have read the Old Testament in the period before and under the British Mandate and now, in light of the foundation of the modern State of Israel, then contemplates how they might read these sacred texts in the future, interacting with proposals by Michael Prior, Charles Miller, and Gershon Nerel. His particular goal is to outline a possible hermeneutic that does not disregard the concerns of the respective religious communities without writing off the Old Testament prematurely.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9675-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
    Will Stalder

    No one doubts the existence of the seemingly endemic “cycle of hatred and violence” that exists between Israel and Palestine and that needs to be broken. In the summer of 2014 it only took the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and a subsequent retaliation killing to plunge the region into conflict again (i.e., Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” the bombardment and invasion of Gaza), effectively nullifying the unprecedented and laudable efforts of Pope Francis in bringing Israeli and Palestinian presidents together in an invocation for peace. No sooner had Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas concluded their prayers, kissed each...

  6. Part I. Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament:: Hermeneutics

    • 1 The Elements of Palestinian Christian Hermeneutics of the Old Testament
      (pp. 3-76)

      The reader will at once recognize the inherent complexity of the title, “Palestinian Christian Hermeneutics of the Old Testament.” It contains at least four aspects. The first, and the foundation of the present discussion, is the question of hermeneutics, or as more generally described, the “art of understanding.”¹ The second facet of the title qualifies the task of hermeneutics and limits its scope to the understanding of a given text, namely, in this case, one in the Old Testament. This is further qualified by the interpretation of the Old Testament from a Christian perspective, and if that were not multifaceted...

  7. Part II. Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament:: History

    • 2 Palestinian Christianity and the Dawn of Zionism
      (pp. 79-136)

      The 1881 pogroms of southern Russia destroyed, among other things, the hope Russian Jews had for assimilation. TheBiluwas founded as a result.¹ This group of “young Russian Jews . . . pioneered the Zionist program of resettlement of the Jewish people in the land of Israel as a solution to the Jewish question.”² Their “Manifesto,” which was written en route to Palestine, challenged their “brethren and sisters in exile” to recognize: “Hopeless is your state in the West (with the prospect of assimilation); the star of your future is gleaming in the East (with respect to a home...

    • 3 Palestinian Christianity and the “Promise” of a Jewish Homeland
      (pp. 137-174)

      On December 9, 1917, the British army under the leadership of General Edmund Allenby defeated the Ottoman armed forces and occupied Jerusalem. In a symbolic gesture of respect for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Allenby entered the city through the Jaffa Gate on foot (see illus.).¹ Jerusalem, he acknowledged, is “regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries. . . .”² He declared to the city’s inhabitants that the British administration would...

    • 4 Palestinian Christianity and the “Catastrophe” of the Modern State of Israel
      (pp. 175-198)

      The British Mandate officially ended at midnight on May 14, 1948. On the eve of its termination the members of the National Council, who were meeting in Tel Aviv, declared independence and thereby established the modern state of Israel. However, the surrounding Arab nations of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq attacked Israel the following day and thus started the Arab-Israeli War. The founding of the state of Israel and the subsequent war, with all its repercussions, are as hotly debated as any event that will be discussed in this section. May 14, 1948 is remembered by many in Israel as...

  8. Part III. Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament:: Ideology

    • 5 Perspectives on Palestinian Christian Hermeneutics of the Old Testament
      (pp. 201-242)

      An ideology is a set of ideas, beliefs and attitudes, consciously or unconsciously held, which reflects or shapes understandings or misconceptions of the social and political world. It serves to recommend, justify or endorse collective action aimed at preserving or changing political practices and institutions. The concept of ideology is split almost irreconcilably between two major senses. The first is pejorative, denoting particular, historically distorted (political) thought which reinforces certain relationships of domination and in respect of which ideology functions as a critical unmasking concept. The second is a non-pejorative assertion about the different families of cultural symbols and ideas...

    • 6 A Prescription for a Palestinian Christian Hermeneutic of the Old Testament
      (pp. 243-322)

      Howshoulda Palestinian Christian read the Old Testament? Inherent in the very structure of this book is the clue to the proposed hermeneutic. In other words, the “how,” or prescription, of PCHOT is specified in the order of this work’s constituent parts. Hermeneutics and the proper understanding of a given Old Testament text are foundational for PCHOT. The way forward for Palestinian Christians, therefore, is not tostartone’s reading of the OT by reading with the eyes of the “Canaanite,” “Tradition,” or “Jewish-Christianfraternité,” or fromanyextraneous perspective, vantage point, or ideology. PCHOT must start with understanding...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 323-342)

    Keith Whitelam quotes this text from Edward Said in his effort to compare the meager attention Palestinian history has received with the scholarly interest in what he calls the “invention of ‘ancient Israel.’” Taking his lead from Philip Davies,² who argues that “ancient Israel” never really existed but is a politically motivated “literary construct” that only wears the garb of history, Whitelam writes: “We are faced with the paradox of the invention of ‘ancient Israel’ . . . an entity that has beengiven substanceandpoweras a scholarly construct, while Palestinian historylacks substanceor even existence in...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 343-394)
  11. Index
    (pp. 395-422)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 423-423)