God's Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine Chosenness

God's Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine Chosenness

by Michael Coogan

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Overview

A noted biblical scholar explores how the claim of divine choice has been used from ancient times to the present to justify territorial expansion and prejudice.

The Bible describes many individuals and groups as specially chosen by God. But does God choose at all? Michael Coogan explains the temporally layered and allusive storytelling of biblical texts and describes the world of the ancient Near East from which it emerged, laying bare the power struggles, the acts of vengeance, and persecutions made sacred by claims of chosenness.

Jumping forward to more modern contexts, Coogan reminds us how the self-designation of the Puritan colonizers of New England as God’s new Israel eventually morphed, in the United States, into the self-justifying doctrines of manifest destiny and American exceptionalism. In contemporary Israel, both fundamentalist Zionists and their evangelical American partners cite the Jews’ status as God’s chosen people as justification for taking land—for very different ends. Appropriated uncritically, the Bible has thus been used to reinforce exclusivity and superiority, with new myths based on old myths.

Finally, in place of the pernicious idea of chosenness, Coogan suggests we might instead focus on another key biblical concept: taking care of the immigrant and the refugee, reminding the reader of the unusual focus on the vulnerable in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807001950
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 200
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Michael Coogan is Lecturer on Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School and Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He is the author of The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, The Old Testament: A Very Short Introduction, and A Reader of Ancient Near Eastern Texts: Sources for the Study of the Old Testament. His most recent book is The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text. He is currently a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1
Presuppositions
Map of the Near East

CHAPTER 2
Abraham and Sons
Timeline

CHAPTER 3
His Name Is Jealous
Map of Ancient Israel and Its Neighbors

CHAPTER 4
Divinely Chosen Kings and Kingdoms

CHAPTER 5
Which Survivors Were Chosen?

CHAPTER 6
Christians as a New Chosen People

CHAPTER 7
Beyond the Bible: Sacred Texts and Sacred Places

CHAPTER 8
God Shed His Light on Thee?

CHAPTER 9
Fundamentalist Zionisms

CHAPTER 10
Immigrants and Refugees, Ideals and Realities

CHAPTER 11
Beyond Tribalism

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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