Divine Violence

Two Essays on God and Disaster


Adi Ophir

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press and Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2011
Series Theory in Context Series

Political theory has hardly studied the nature of divine rule. According to the Tanakh, God was a sovereign who ruled his world and his people by means of various and unusual types of violence. Major disasters—the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues in Egypt, and many others—served as a system of government. Divine Violence: Two Essays on God and Disaster  relates seriously to the political imagination of the biblical text. In a rare combination of careful reading, conceptual analysis, and creative interpretation, Adi Ophir reconstructs from the text varied and competing patterns of divine rule. He traces the manifestations of these patterns in the modern era, from descriptions of the plague in the seventeenth century to the Twin Towers catastrophe and the siege of Gaza. Ophir points to the contradictory ways in which the modern state perceives the place of the deity in causing major disasters and in handling them, either abandoning the victims or saving them. At the same time he reveals the continuing presence of the theological dimension in contemporary political frameworks that appear to have undergone total secularization. The book proposes an original reading of the Tanakh and a no-less-original analysis, from an unexpected point of view, of the disaster as the defining mark of this era.

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