In Search of the Hebrew People

In Search of the Hebrew People

Bible and Nation in the German Enlightenment
Ofri Ilany
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/01/2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03351-2
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As German scholars, poets, and theologians searched for the origins of the ancient Israelites, Ofri Ilany believes they created a model for nationalism that drew legitimacy from the biblical idea of the Chosen People. In this broad exploration of eighteenth-century Hebraism, Ilany tells the story of the surprising role that this model played in discussions of ethnicity, literature, culture, and nationhood among the German-speaking intellectual elite. He reveals the novel portrait they sketched of ancient Israel and how they tried to imitate the Hebrews while forging their own national consciousness. This sophisticated and lucid argument sheds new light on the myths, concepts, and political tools that formed the basis of modern German culture.

Author Bio

Ofri Ilany is a postdoctoral fellow at the Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.


“"Sound, well-informed, and original. No one seriously interested in the history of biblical criticism will be able to ignore this work."”
 — Mark Somos, author of, Secularism and the Leiden Circle

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Table of Contents

1. Troglodytes, Hottentots and Hebrews: The Bible and the Genesis of German Ethnography
2. The Law and the People: Mosaic Law and German Enlightenment
3. The Eighteenth-Century Polemic on the Extermination of the Canaanites
4. "Is Judah Indeed the Teutonic Fatherland?" The Hebrew Model and the Birth of German National Culture
5. "Lovers of Hebrew Poetry": The Battle over the Bible’s Relevance at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century