The Zionist Consciousness and the Bible: Language, Text, Place

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


This study aims to examine the position of the Bible in the Zionist consciousness from its inception until the establishment of the State of Israel. In the nineteenth century, with the growth of the Enlightenment and Jewish nationalism, the Hebrew Bible regained its place as the formative book of modern Judaism. Both movements viewed the ancient religious text as a tool for modernization and secularization. Identifying with the Bible strengthened the structural weakness of the Jewish national movement: the absence of language and territory. The return to the biblical text enabled Zionism to reimagine the Jewish people as a modern nation. This study analyzes the relationship to the Bible of the various branches of the Zionist movement, from the secular radicals to the religious conservatives. Prominent Zionist intellectuals and political leaders addressed the Bible with deep gravity. Some wrote academic studies on it, others published Journal articles, and others wrote curricula for teaching it in schools. In so doing, they formulated a Zionist consciousness of the Hebrew Bible. A nationalistic interpretation of the Bible changed the traditional emphases. It stressed the geographical location of the Land of Israel, the kingdom, and the prophetic vision, as opposed to the religious aspects of Judaism expressed within it and the relationship between the Jewish people and its God. The Bible had a particularly strong influence on the Zionists in Palestine until 1948. This study aims to understand the inner cultural world of the Zionist movement based on the approach of Anthony D. Smith.
Original languageAmerican English
Media of outputDepartmental Seminar/Colloquium
Place of PublicationBen-Gurion University of the Negev; Israel Studies
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2020


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