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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Goy: IsraelĎs Multiple Others and the Birth of the Gentile
Ophir, Adi and Ishay Rosen-Zvi

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018 pp. viii + 333. $99.00

Series Information
Oxford Studies in the Abrahamic Religions

Description: 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.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Ezra, Nehemiah, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Judaism, Social-Scientific Approaches, Ideological Critique

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Review by Jennifer M. Matheny
Published 6/18/2020
Citation: Jennifer M. Matheny, review of Adi Ophir and Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Goy: Israelís Multiple Others and the Birth of the Gentile, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).


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