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Oxford University Press
25 June 2020
Ancient history: to c 500 CE; Judaism; Judaism: sacred texts
Goy: Israel's Others and the Birth of the Gentile traces the development of the term and category of the goy from the Bible to rabbinic literature. Adi Ophir and Ishay Rosen-Zvi show that the category of the goy was born much later than scholars assume; in fact not before the first century CE. They explain that the abstract concept of the gentile first appeared in Paul's Letters. However, it was only in rabbinic literature that this category became the center of a stable and long standing structure that involved God, the Halakha, history, and salvation. The authors narrate this development through chronological analyses of the various biblical and post biblical texts (including the Dead Sea scrolls, the New Testament and early patristics, the Mishnah, and rabbinic Midrash) and synchronic analyses of several discursive structures. Looking at some of the goy's instantiations in contemporary Jewish culture in Israel and the United States, the study concludes with an examination of the extraordinary resilience of the Jew/goy division and asks how would Judaism look like without the gentile as its binary contrast.
By:   Adi Ophir (Mellon Visiting Professor of Humanities and Middle East Studies Mellon Visiting Professor of Humanities and Middle East Studies Brown University), Ishay Rosen-Zvi (Professor, Professor, Tel Aviv University)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   1
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 158mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   544g
ISBN:   9780198866466
ISBN 10:   0198866461
Series:   Oxford Studies in the Abrahamic Religions
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   25 June 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction 1: Nokhri, Goy, and the Art of Separation in the Hebrew Bible 2: Fragile Exclusions, Virtual Inclusions: Ezra-Nehemiah and the Eschatological Prophesies 3: The Missing Goy: Second Temple Literature 4: Ethn=e and Goyim, Hell=enes and Allophyloi 5: Paul and the Non-Ethnic Ethnd=e 6: Maturity: Rabbinic Literature and the Birth of the Goy 7: The Goy and the Formation of Tannaitic Discourse: Halakhah and Aggadah 8: Gentiles are not Barbarians Postscript Bibliography

Adi Ophir is Professor Emeritus at The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University and a Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the Cogut Center of the Humanities, Brown University. He was Director of the Lexicon for Political Theory research project at The Minerva Humanities Center. He was also the founding editor of Theory and Criticism, the main Hebrew journal for critical theory, and of the online journal Mafte'akh: Lexical Review for Political Thought, and member of the editorial board of Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon. His publications include The One-State Condition: Occupation and Democracy in Israel/Palestine (Stanford University Press; 2012), Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (MIT Press, 2009), and The Order of Evils: Toward an Ontology of Morals (MIT Press, 2005). Ishay Rosen-Zvi is a Professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University and head of the Talmud section. He previously taught Talmud and Midrash at the University of California at Berkeley and was a fellow at the Scholion Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2013 he was elected to the Young Israeli Academy of Science. He is the author of Demonic Desires: Yetzer Hara and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) and The Mishnaic Sotah Ritual: Temple, Gender and Midrash (Brill, 2012).

Reviews for Goy: Israel's Multiple Others and the Birth of the Gentile

This carefully argued, somewhat technical monograph offers a wide-ranging survey of ancient Israelite and early Jewish understandings of non-Israelites and non-Jews. ... there is no doubt that Ophir and Rosen-Zvi have done an important service by analyzing a vast amount of literature across several historical periods. They also engage an astonishing number of scholarly dialogue partners, as their extensive footnotes and 50-page bibliography reveal. An invaluable resource for those interested in the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple studies, the New Testament, and rabbinics. * CHOICE * an impressive work of scholarship ... [it] is important and worthy of further discussion and research * Elad Lapidot, Political Theology * Books such as this should be judged not only by what they say, but also by the quality of debate that they generate. On this score, Goy is already a success ... Ophir and Rosen-Zvi's blend of methodological precision with philological breadth has set a new standard for debate on these issues * James Adam Redfield, Reading Religion * Goy is first and foremost a meticulous historical and philological research into ancient rabbinic texts. Yet this research on things past is closely related with the present, what gives the discussion a sense of urgency. * Karma Ben-Johanan, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Political Theology Network * Ophir and Rosen-Zvi's study sheds light on a significant blind spot. The two uncover a dramatic historical development and for the first time elucidate the history of one of the oldest and most important Jewish institutions. * Tomer Persico, Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies at UC Berkeley, Haaretz * Review from previous edition Goy is an important and absolutely necessary intervention in scholarly assumptions. * Cavan Concannon, University of Southern California. , Ancient Jew Review * The work is thorough in its review of contemporary scholarship in this area, and rightly dismisses both the tendency of scholars to project rabbinic views back to an earlier period and the common misreading of the rabbis in the light of apologetic concerns. * Norman Solomon, University of Oxford, Journal of Jewish Studies * Their co-authored book is a rich and rewarding (if sometimes demanding) study that discusses a wide range of ancient Jewish texts, and points to different ways in which ideas of otherness can be understood and experienced * Andrew Gregory, University College, Anvil *


  • Winner of Winner of the Goldstein-Goren Book Award Finalist for the 2019 Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards.

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