1st Edition

Religion, Ethnicity and Xenophobia in the Bible A Theoretical, Exegetical and Theological Survey

By Brian Rainey Copyright 2019
    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Chapter One Biblical scholarship and "the Other"; Chapter Two Birds of a feather: explaining ethnic foreignness; 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; Bibliography; Index


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

    "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