Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism.
ELEMENTS OF ANCIENT JEWISH NATIONALISM. By David Goodblatt. Pp. xvi + 260. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press (known colloquially as CUP) is a publisher given a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1534, and one of the two privileged presses (the other being Oxford University Press). , 2006. Cloth, $75.00.
The existence of modern Zionism and the State of Israel makes any study of ancient Jewish nationalism more immediate and controversial than a monograph on Scythian nationalism, for instance, and this also places a greater burden upon the author to prove his case. David Goodblatt alludes directly to this situation when summing up his chapter on Zion nationalism:
Nevertheless, it appears to me at least possible that the Judean rebels of 66-70, with their emphasis on Jerusalem and its temple, created the first Zionist movement. That is, they used the name "Zion" to express and invoke Jewish nationalism.... Perhaps it was the widely circulating "small change" that was intended to carry the goal of the rebels to the masses. That goal was the freedom of Zion. Better yet, perhaps both the silver and bronze coinage carried the message of the rebel leaders. If so, their attempt to mobilize the masses to fight for what the Zionist anthem Hatiqvah calls [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "the land of Zion and Jerusalem," justifies our characterizing the ideology of the rebels as ancient Zionism-or Zion nationalism. (pp. 202-203)
I have quoted Goodblatt at length because this piece shows in nuce how attuned the author is to modern theoretical ideas about nationalism in his concern for mass communication, while at the same time displaying real mastery of the ancient material, in this case the coinage of the first revolt. Throughout this book, Goodblatt consistently balances theoretical issues with keen analysis of a very broad range of literary, epigraphic ep·i·graph
1. An inscription, as on a statue or building.
2. A motto or quotation, as at the beginning of a literary composition, setting forth a theme. , and numismatic nu·mis·mat·ic
1. Of or relating to coins or currency.
2. Of or relating to numismatics.
[French numismatique, from Late Latin numisma, numismat-, evidence.
Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism is, in fact, the most theoretically sophisticated and thoroughly documented book written on the topic, yet Goodblatt manages to wear his learning lightly, never descending to jargonlaced obfuscation in an attempt to impress. His first chapter situates his own work vis-a-vis the modernist and primordialist approaches to nationalism, and he then poses the question, "What then are the differences between ethnic identity and national consciousness?" (p. 9) Goodblatt locks horns with Benedict Anderson's idea of "imagined community" by characterizing it as "a deracinated, partially demythologized version of the subjective belief in common descent A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor. In modern biology, it is generally accepted that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool. " (9), while he highlights Anthony Smith's models of "national identity" and "ethnic community" and Smith's musings on the existence of ancient Jewish nationalism (he cites Smith's National Identity, but not Chosen Peoples, Oxford, 2003; for further explanation of the ethnic, or German, model, and the civic, or French, model, of national identity, also see Hans Kohn Hans Kohn (Hebrew: הַנְס כֹּהן, September 15, 1891 - 1971) was a philosopher and historian. , Prelude to Nation-States, 1967). After exploring the conceptual question of ethnicity (with Herodotus 8.144 on "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. ]" as a touchstone; see now E. Gruen, ed., Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity, 2005) and concluding "I find it difficult and not helpful to distinguish ethnicity from nationality," Goodblatt distinguishes "the concept of a nation ... from that of a state," and he defines national identity as "a belief in a common descent and shared culture available for mass political mobilization" (p. 26). He then describes nationalism as "the invocation of national identity as the basis for mass mobilization Mass mobilization (also known as social mobilization or popular mobilization) refers to mobilization of civilian population as part of contentious politics. Mass mobilization can be used by social movements, including revolutionary movements, but also by the state and action" (p. 27). Referring to "mass" activity is crucial for his argument, since this is one of the key criteria that modernists refuse to see in ancient settings, thus denying the existence of nationalism in antiquity (or calling it protonationalism). For Goodblatt's analysis of his own work's improvement upon Doron Mendels's The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism (1992/1997) and Seth Schwartz's Imperialism and Jewish Society (2001), one should flip to the concluding chapter of this book before reading the main body.
Chapters 2 and 3 form a pair, "Constructing Jewish Nationalism: The Role of Scripture" and "Constructing Jewish Nationalism: The Hebrew Language." In Chapter 2, Goodblatt must contend with the problem of low ancient literacy posing a roadblock when constructing a national identity (one must ask, Does any modernist question whether Burkina Faso is a nation with only a 12.8% literacy rate, according to the U.N. in 2005?). He sets out to show that "widespread and regular public recitation rec·i·ta·tion
a. The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance.
b. The material so presented.
a. Oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil.
b. of biblical texts would explain how ideas of common descent and shared culture could reach a mass audience," and he thinks it was possible in limited fashion during the Persian period and was "certainly what was going on by the Hellenistic period" (p. 48). Goodblatt performs an interesting exercise with Keith Hopkins's proposed survival ratio of texts at less than 1:10,000, and he demonstrates that "the archaeological evidence from the late first century (Qumran and Masada) and early second century (caves with refugees from the Bar Kokhba revolt Bar Kokhba revolt (132–135) (Hebrew: מרד בר כוכבא) against the Roman Empire, also known as The Second Jewish-Roman War or ) Judah thus suggests that biblical scrolls were fairly plentiful and widely diffused" and that "many of these manuscripts, like many or most ancient books, were performance texts" (p. 47). Here he is responding to the modernists who cannot imagine nationalism before newspapers, radio, and television, and at the same time he is placing his work firmly within the framework of orality scholarship (p. 34). In Chapter 3, I wish he had addressed Josephus's decision to compose his first version of the Bellum Judaicum "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (BJ 1.3), but there is no doubt that "the existence of the Hebrew, even as a purely literary or artificial language, served to help construct Jewish identity" (p. 70).
Chapter 4, " A Kingdom of Priests: The Priestly Component in Ancient Jewish Nationalism," builds upon his previous book, The Monarchic Principle (1994). He examines priests as "preservers and teachers of the national literature" and "actual rulers of Judah," as well as "their provision of an ideology of resistance to foreign domination" (p. 75). This last element involves a complicated argument that includes a reading of Josephus, Contra Apionem 2.165 on theocracy theocracy
Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. as being equivalent to priestly rule (contra J. Barclay's Brill commentary note on this, also published in 2006 and, therefore, unavailable to Goodblatt). His proposal that priests originally may have concocted the idea later used by the rebels of "no lord but God" and "the ideal of 'zeal'" (p. 99) is thought provoking.
Chapters 5, 6, and 7 stand as a triptych of the three ancient Jewish national identities: Israel, Judah, and Zion. Goodblatt handles well the minimalist debate on the reconstruction of Israel's history. A discussion of the name "Hebrews" might also have been helpful here. Overall, Goodblatt deftly proves Anderson's point (about Viet Nam) that names truly matter, and that when the rebels of both revolts chose a name for their national identity, they rejected the Hasmonean "Judah" in favor of "Israel" (p. 138; Josephus, perhaps tellingly, only uses the name "Israel" once at AJ 9.95, while he uses "Israelite" quite commonly in his account of events before the exile). Chapter 6 convincingly argues that "ethnos of the Judeans" was a preHasmonean moniker (1) A name, title or alias. See alias.
(2) A COM object that is used to create instances of other objects. Monikers save programmers time when coding various types of COM-based functions such as linking one document to another (OLE). See COM and OLE. "in contemporary non-Judean documents" (p. 146), was used by the Hasmoneans and Herod, as well as his descendants, for their nationalist self-presentations, and that "the gentilic form privileges the people over the territory, ethnicity over geography" (p. 157). I was only surprised by Goodblatt's omission of the gospel of John For other uses, see Gospel of John (disambiguation).
The Gospel of John (literally, According to John; Greek, Κατά Ιωαννην, Kata Iōannēn 19:19-22, where Pilate composes a titulus for Jesus that reads "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" in three languages, since Goodblatt cites the gospel of Mark
Most exciting is Chapter 7 on Zion nationalism, which grapples with the sudden use of this term on bronze, but not silver, coinage of the first revolt and the fact that it does not get reused during the second revolt. Though it never appears in Josephus (p. 187), "the mention of 'Zion,' which could allude to the temple mount or to the temple itself, could be an expression of this rebel ideology" (p. 185). Goodblatt moves on to study the lack of "Mount Zion" in the Mishnah and Tosefta, showing how much more common is the phrase "the temple mount" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Through exhaustive quotation, he demonstrates that "'the temple mount' was not a common phrase in Second Temple times" but quite common by the third century (p. 201). Though Goodblatt never mentions Mount Moriah as a name (Josephus does so only once at AJ 1.224, perhaps because in Greek it sounded like "folly"--see L. Feldman's note in his Brill commentary), he does explain that Mt. Zion even shifts location by the Byzantine era.
Since his book is named Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism, it may be unfair to take issue with elements Goodblatt has left out; a more accurate title for this work, however, might have been Elements of Ancient Jewish National Identity. In the latter half of the book, Goodblatt concentrates on the literary, epigraphic, and numismatic representations of the Israel, Judah, and Zion identities, but he never really explains how their ideologies were then implemented through specific actions (beyond the production of literature, inscriptions, and coins) by those who espoused them. This would require another volume from Goodblatt, one that I would also greatly enjoy reading.
For instance, how did those who identified with the Israel, Judah, and Zion nationalisms view and treat others who were not Israelite/Judean/ Zionist within the boundaries of the territory controlled by them? In his 1990 JAOS JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JAOS Japan Offroad Service (Tokyo, Japan)
JAOS Japan Amateurs Orchid Society review of A. Kasher's Jews, Idumaeans, and Ancient Arabs (1988), Goodblatt took issue with Kasher's interpretation of the Hasmonean policy of forced male circumcision circumcision (sûr'kəmsĭzh`ən), operation to remove the foreskin covering the glans of the penis. It dates back to prehistoric times and was widespread throughout the Middle East as a religious rite before it was introduced among the as "voluntary," and he could have easily included this issue in this book, but he only mentions "Hasmonean expansionism ex·pan·sion·ism
A nation's practice or policy of territorial or economic expansion.
ex·pansion·ist adj. & n. " (p. 165) without explaining what it entailed (Martin Goodman also uses the term "expansionist ex·pan·sion·ism
A nation's practice or policy of territorial or economic expansion.
ex·pansion·ist adj. & n. " in his new book, Rome and Jerusalem, 2007, p. 55, to describe the actions of Alexander Jannaeus, but without details; see H. Chapman, "Paul, Josephus, and the Judean Nationalistic and Imperialistic Policy of Forced Circumcision," 'Ilu, Revista de Ciencias de las Religiones 11 : 131-155). Goodblatt briefly mentions circumcision on pages 28- 29 and 109, and only draws real attention to it in his conclusion during a critique of Schwartz's book (pp. 208-209; with all due respect to Goodblatt, circumcision is not "archeologically invisible"-see articles in Bulletin for the Australian Centre for Egyptology 7 : 15-28, and 8 : 91-101, and Bulletin of the History of Medicine 75 : 375-405). Perhaps he chose not to discuss circumcision as a means of constructing the male body politic BODY POLITIC, government, corporations. When applied to the government this phrase signifies the state.
2. As to the persons who compose the body politic, they take collectively the name, of people, or nation; and individually they are citizens, when considered because it was performed under all three nationalisms, while his book's stated focus is the process of "modification and change in the contents of Jewish national identity" (p. 210).
Readers might have also benefited from more discussion of how perceptions and representations of the female gender affected the construction of and changes in ancient Jewish national identity. It is a given for Goodblatt's audience, for instance, that women could not be priests in the cult of Yahweh, but the chapter on "A Kingdom of Priests" might have addressed this gender issue more closely with respect to the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra. To his credit, Goodblatt does ask whether the popularity of the female name Salome/Shelamsiyyon indicates "the importance of 'Zion' in the popular consciousness" (p. 182) during the Second Temple period, and he explains that the answer is probably "no" and that the phenomenon can be explained as analogous to "the popularity of Hasmonean dynastic names for males." His question shows both scholarly creativity and an awareness that women did play a part in ancient Jewish nationalism.
Finally, this book is very well written and edited. It, however, presumes that the audience has access to maps elsewhere and uses a puzzling mix of original scripts and transliterated Hebrew and Greek. In short, this book belongs in the library of every scholar who studies Hebrew literature and the Second Temple period, and it will surely inspire continuing explications of ancient Jewish nationalism that employ not only the ancient sources but also theoretical considerations seen up to this point only in studies of modern nationalism.
Honora Howell Chapman
California State University, Fresno The campus sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno County is the sixth largest metropolitan area in California. The university is within an hour's drive of many mountain and lake resorts and within a three- or four-hour drive of both Los
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