The publication of this book--the first of four volumes of selected works exploring the political thought of the Jews from biblical times to the modern day--is nothing less than an occasion for celebration. As the preface indicates, Judaism is founded upon a collective identity, rooted in a covenant with a people and a nation rather than isolated individuals. Even before the foundation of Israel forced Jews to confront the "central problems of collective existence," Judaism was bound up with the identity of a people.

This collection of texts--ranging from biblical excerpts, to rabbinical writings, to the writings of Jewish philosophers--deals with the problem of authority in Jewish life, the relationship between political and divine authority, the difficulties of being a minority and exercising rule, and the question of the relationship of the religious tradition to the political realm. Subsequent volumes will address questions of membership (who is a Jew?), community (what do Jews have in common, and how do they order their communal life?), and, finally, politics and history, exploring the theological and political difficulties of a religion founded upon ideas of exile and redemption. Beautifully organized, carefully presented, the series will be immensely useful not only for Jews, but anyone interested in the history of ideas and religion.

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