Israelite Identity

After War and Ethics, my interest in the historical situatedness of ethical thought led me to analyse the relationship between ethics and ethnic identity, culminating in The Making of Israel: Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy (Brill, 2014).

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?’).