The Jewish Political Tradition: Politics from the Outside?

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In this essay, I examine aspects of Walzer's exposition of The Jewish Political Tradition (=the title of a multi-volume work of which he is leading editor) as they intersect with his work on political theory more generally. The Jewish tradition seems to present a radical example of "anti-politics": of a people existing outside the political realm. This is due both to the historical fact of their long exile, and to the shadow cast upon human politics by the prophetic ideology of Divine Sovereignty. Despite their long-lasting lack of sovereignty, Jewish communities sustained a significant political life and a rich political discourse; this can serve to illustrate the primacy of the people's common life over the state, whose function is to support this life. As for divine sovereignty, it need not negate human political agency; instead, it can furnish – as in the case of the biblical prophets – the grounding for effective social criticism; though it is far from clear who, if anyone, is heir to the prophetic-critical mantle in post-biblical Judaism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-424
JournalRevue Internationale de Philosophie
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


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