Israelite Identity

My interests in the historical and theological contexts of ethics led to The Making of Israel: Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy (Brill, 2014), which focusses on the relationship between ethics, ethnic identity and theology.

In The Making of Israel I argue that the southern Levant during the seventh century BCE was a formative period for Israelite ethnic identity, challenging the tendency to date  biblical texts with identity concerns to the exilic and post-exilic periods, or to limit pre-exilic identity concerns to nationalistic fervour under Josiah. The argument analyses the archaeological material from the southern Levant during Iron Age II, then draws on anthropological research to argue for an ethnic response to the economic, political and cultural change of this period. The volume concludes with an investigation into identity issues in Deuteronomy, highlighting centralisation and exclusive Yahwism as part of the deuteronomic formulation of Israelite ethnic identity.

This project produced two further articles, one of which draws on anthropological and psychological studies of ethnicity and disgust to argue that the biblical language of ‘abomination’ addresses concerns about social boundaries (‘What Makes a Thing Abominable?’).