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‘Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof!’: Reading Leviticus 25:10 Through the Centuries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-701
Number of pages17
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Volume44
Issue number6
Early online date20 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Abstract

This paper follows the text of Leviticus 25:10 in the Hebrew Bible and in selected works of the exegetical tradition of both Rabbinic Judaism and Western Christianity, in order to provide a lens through which to assess the use of a biblical text which was instrumental during the early modern period in formulating ideas about the republic and from thence to the modern liberal state. The main argument of the paper is that over time the meaning of the text shifted depending on the context in which it was read, ranging from the socio-economic to the salvific to the political. Further, all the authors cited here approached the text as an authoritative normative text, and did not look at the text as a textual artefact. While the move to re-introduce Jewish Sources into the debate in political theory is welcomed, it is argued that the results would be improved by balanced reading strategies and interaction with critical academic biblical scholarship.

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