1st Edition

The Hebrew Bible, Nationalism and the Origins of Anti-Judaism A New Interpretation and Poetic Anthology

By David Aberbach Copyright 2023

    In the attempts to unify divided peoples on the basis of a shared past, both historical and mythical, this book illumines aspects of cultural nationalism common since the Middle Ages.


    As an edited work, the Bible includes texts mostly depicting long-gone historical eras extending over several centuries. Following on from Aberbach’s previous work National Poetry, Empires, and War, this book argues that works of this nature – notably the Mujo-Halil songs in Albania, the Irish stories of Cuchulain, the songs of the Nibelungen in Germany, or the Finnish legends collected in The Kalevala – have an ancient precedent in the Hebrew Bible (to which national literatures often allude and refer), a subject largely neglected in biblical studies. The self-critical element in the Hebrew Bible, common in later national literature, is examined as the basis of later anti-Semitism, as the Bible was not confined to Jews but was adopted in translation by many other national groups. With several dozen original translations from the Hebrew, this book highlights how the Bible influenced and was distorted by later national cultures.

    Written without jargon, this book is intended for the general reader, but is also an important contribution to the study of the Bible, nationalism, and Jewish history.

    Foreword by Dr. Athena Leoussi. Preface and Acknowledgments. Introduction. 1. The edited Bible as united nation. 2. Biblical nationalism and universalism. 3. Editing and moral judgment. 4. Nationalism and oral traditions. 5. National unity as literary aim. 6. Defeat and national literature. 7. Imperialism and the Fertile Crescent. 8. Aaron, Jeroboam and the golden calves. 9. National self-image: guilt and betrayal. 10. Judean views of the lost Kingdom of Israel. 11. Judean views of the lost Kingdom of Judah.  12. Myth and nationalism. 13. From Eden to the ruined kingdom. 14.   Revenge and national poetry. 15. Dissidence, exile, and populist nationalism. 16. Second Isaiah and the reborn nation. 17. The Bible, the Nation, and the ‘Holy Poor’. 18. ‘A light for the nations’. Conclusion. the Hebrew Bible and origins of anti-Judaism. Epilogue on Love:  The Song of Songs. Bibliography.


    David Aberbach is Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Studies at McGill University.