A noted biblical scholar explores how the claim of divine choice has been used from ancient times to the present to justify territorial expansion and prejudice.
Michael Coogan is Lecturer on Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School and Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He is the author of The Old Testament- A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, The Old Testament- A Very Short Introduction, and A Reader of Ancient Near Eastern Texts- Sources for the Study of the Old Testament. His most recent book is The Ten Commandments- A Short History of an Ancient Text. He is currently a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College.
"Coogan's rigorous work deserves a wide audience."
"Those interested in biblical interpretation and in American
religious history will find this to be a helpful work."
--Library Journal "Coogan has produced an extremely valuable book. Read it, and you will never read the Bible in quite the same way again."
--Religion Dispatches "What does it mean to be chosen by God? The biblical promise of the covenant has become the basis for remarkable political movements, both of liberation and xenophobia, freedom, and oppression. Tracing the history of this key concept from the Bible to the present day, Michael Coogan brilliantly brings to life the extraordinary journey of this complex religious idea."
--Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, and author of The Aryan Jesus "God's Favorites traces the negative effects of the idea of the divine chosenness of a particular people. Starting with an overview of ideas about divine chosenness in the Bible, the book shows the concrete, violent, and oppressive ways this idea of chosenness has been used. It has shaped exclusive ideas of American exceptionalism, undergirded the beliefs of fundamentalist Zionists, and inflamed debates about immigration up to the present day. A timely and important book."
--David M. Carr, author of Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origins "With eye-opening revelations on almost every page, God's Favorites brilliantly illuminates biblical verse by placing it in the context of biblical history. That is Michael Coogan's unequaled specialty. Instead of God choosing a group of people based on their bloodlines or the particulars of their practice--a view that has fueled pogroms by the powerful and terrorism by the weak--Coogan argues that, in reality, people choose their (interpretation of) God. Let us choose, then, deliberately and with humility, what and how we worship, conscious of our relative insignificance within the grandeur that is creation."
--Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State