Religion, Ethnicity and Xenophobia in the Bible: A Theoretical, Exegetical and Theological Survey, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Religion, Ethnicity and Xenophobia in the Bible

A Theoretical, Exegetical and Theological Survey, 1st Edition

By Brian Rainey


310 pages

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pub: 2018-11-29
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Religion, Ethnicity and Xenophobia in the Bible looks at some of the Bible’s most hostile and violent anti-foreigner texts and raises critical questions about how students of the Bible and ancient Near East should grapple with "ethnicity" and "foreignness" conceptually, hermeneutically and theologically. The author uses insights from social psychology, cognitive psychology, anthropology, sociology and ethnic studies to develop his own perspective on ethnicity and foreignness.

Starting with legends about Mesopotamian kings from the third millennium BCE, then navigating the Deuteronomistic and Holiness traditions of the Hebrew Bible, and finally turning to Deuterocanonicals and the Apostle Paul, the book assesses the diverse and often inconsistent portrayals of foreigners in these ancient texts. This examination of the negative portrayal of foreigners in biblical and Mesopotamian texts also leads to a broader discussion about how to theorize ethnicity in biblical studies, ancient studies and the humanities. This volume will be invaluable to students of ethnicity and society in the Bible, at all levels.


"This is a thoroughly researched, multidisciplinary monograph which utilises a wide range of scholarship in order to trace portrayals of the ‘foreigners’ in biblical texts, and a variety of other relevant primary evidence. Rainey writes thoughtfully and brings strong theoretical foundations into dialogue with incisive analysis of texts. The monograph illustrates and highlights the various nuances of the enduring, and never more topical, nature of xenophobia, ethnicity, and religion."

- Katherine Southwood, University of Oxford, UK

Table of Contents



Chapter One

Biblical Scholarship and "the Other"

Chapter Two

Birds of a Feather: Explaining Ethnic Foreigners

Chapter Three

"Brood of Destruction": Mesopotamian Caricatures of Foreigners

Chapter Four

"He Fixed the Boundaries of the Earth": Some Biblical Idioms of Ethnicity

Chapter Five

"A Non-People, A Foolish Nation": Caricatures of Foreigners in Deuteronomistic Texts

Chapter Six

"I Was Repulsed by Them": Caricatures of Foreigners in Holiness Texts

Chapter Seven

"Foolish by Nature": The Reverberations of Ethnic Polemics in the Bible

Chapter Eight:

"In Order That I Might Horrify Them": A Theological Appraisal



About the Author

Brian Rainey is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Biblical World

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies