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Jewish Concepts of ScriptureA Comparative Introduction$
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Benjamin D. Sommer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740620

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740620.001.0001

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Scripture and Modern Israeli Literature

Scripture and Modern Israeli Literature

(p.280) Chapter 16 Scripture and Modern Israeli Literature
Jewish Concepts of Scripture

Yael S. Feldman

NYU Press

This chapter states how contemporary critics have contested modern national identities as cultural “constructs.” Israeli identity has not escaped this critique, as seen in the history of the so-called Israel's “Biblemania” which gained momentum after the establishment of the State of Israel, when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion “elevated the Bible to the chief intellectual focus of the young state.” The chapter suggests that this “elevation” is not a new invention, but the attempt to co-opt the Bible in the service of nascent Jewish nationalism is not surprising. As stated by Anthony D. Smith, national identity represents a community's response to connect with its ethnic myths, symbols, and memories. The Israeli people seem to have utilized all three measures Smith attributes to such national efforts-reiteration, continuity, and appropriation-as well as a fourth one, secularization.

Keywords:   national identities, Israeli identity, Biblemania, Jewish nationalism, Anthony D. Smith, secularization

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