chapter  4
22 Pages

Prolegomena to Jewish Political Theory

WithBernard Susser, Eliezer Don-Yehiya

This chapter sets forth methodically and concisely major features, strategies, and options that any inquiry into Jewish political theory would need to take into account. For if scholarship in Western political thought has concentrated on the exposition of texts and the analysis of arguments, the researcher in Jewish political theory is presented with a formidable preliminary task before he can proceed. A further caveat needs to be emphasized in comparison of Western and Jewish political theory. Speaking for at least the great span stretching from Talmudic times to the eighteenth century, most Jewish political theorizing was the handmaiden of quotidian life and pressing realities. Working our way from speculative to behavioral and experiential perspectives brings us to most concrete objectification of Jewish political ideas—the study of Jewish political institutions. Jewish categories may persist subliminally as has been so often argued in regard to Jewish socialists, but the vagueness of associations makes for historio-graphical impressionism rather than systematic political theory.