With the Power of God: Theology and Politics in Modern Hebrew Literature

With the Power of God cover photo
Author (Faculty Member): 

This book proposes a political reading of modern Hebrew literature through the work of Micha Joseph Berdyczewski, Haim Nachman Bialik, Uri Zvi Greenberg, S.Y.Agnon,  Nathan Alterman, Moshe Shamir, Dalia Ravikovitch, Meir Wieseltier and Ronit Matalon. At the very base of these readings lies the assumption that despite its claim of secularism, Zionism never actually relinquished its theological roots. It attempts to reveal the religious layer hidden within Zionist language – its words, grammar and expressions, a layer Gershom Scholem analyzed and defined as a repressed force, bound to explode.

The book investigates the politics of the hegemonic national narrative, reading “against the grain” and focusing on its blind spots, its silences, and deviations from the linear, teleological national narrative. It presents a critical stance undermining the smooth merger of theology and politics in the imagined structure of the Jewish state, a merger aimed at erasing the conflict between Judaism and Jewish law necessary to establishing a democratic national state. National theology, established at the beginning of the 20th century, has been assigned a prominent role in the national imagination of modern Hebrew literature. These readings of Hebrew literature’s most prominent authors and poets allow a new understanding of the political role of theology in literature.

Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, Heb.
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2013