In God's Shadow - A Political Theorist Reads the Hebrew Bible by Michael Walzer. £20, published by Yale University Press.

In God’s Shadow – A Political Theorist Reads the Hebrew Bible by Michael Walzer. £20, published by Yale University Press.

The Bible is an extraordinary diverse tract of writings. Almost by default of its concern with laws, societal morality and leadership, political theorists such as Michael Walzer have much to analyse from it, which is exactly what he does in “In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible”.

In the book’s preface, Walzer writes that his intention was simply to “examine the ideas about politics, the understanding of government and law that are expressed in the Hebrew Bible”, but primarily as a political theorist rather than Bible critic.

Rather than analysing the Bible chronologically, Walzer does so thematically with chapters discussing various modes rule, Messianism, law, the Prophets, ancient international relations and a variety of other subjects. This approach was particularly appreciated, allowing for greater comparison of themes as the Bible’s narrative progressed.

While not the lightest of reads, it certainly makes a good one. I would envision the ideal reader as a student of the Hebrew Bible with a deep interest in politics and political systems, but many others will also enjoy Walzer’s work.