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

With the Power of God: Theology and Politics in Modern Hebrew Literature
Publisher: 
Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language: 
Hebrew
Year of Publication: 
2013
About: 

With the Power of God: Theology and Politics in Modern Hebrew Literature proposes a political reading of new Hebrew literature, based on the study of the works of M.J. Berdichevsky, H.N. Bialik, U.Z. Greenberg, S.Y. Agnon, Natan Alterman, Moshe Shamir, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Meir Wieseltier, and Ronit Matalon. The author assumes that despite Zionism’s pretensions to secularism, it never separated itself from its theological foundation. The book aims to expose the religious layer hidden in the words, grammar, and idioms of the language of Zionism, the layer in which Gershom Scholem saw a hidden and repressed force that would ultimately burst forth.

The book aims to understand the politics of the hegemonic national narrative, to read it “counterclockwise” and to focus on the blind spots, silences, and deviations from the linear and teleological narrative of nationalism. It is written from a critical stance that undercuts the smooth merger of theology and politics in the imaginary mold of the Jewish state, a merger that aims to conceal the conflict between Judaism as a religion and the establishment of a democratic nation-state. National theology, formulated in the twentieth century, had a central place in the national imagination of the new Hebrew literature. The proposed reading of the works of some of the leading writers and poets of this literature thus provides a new understanding of the political role of theology in literature.