Monday, 21 September 2015
We the People: Israel and the Catholicity of Jesus,
Tommy Givens, Fortress, 2014, page 1-2
Tommy Given's first book, published last year and recommended by my eternal supervisor, Dr Richard Harvey, starts with a strong assertion on the very first page of the introduction.
With the rise of the nation-state in recent centuries, "the people" has emerged as the most determinative form of human community.
Now, given that Givens is writing as an American, to whom the phrase "We, the people" has a particular resonance, that might in itself be reasonable. But he continues:
By "most determinative" I mean the primary basis for killing. What or who belongs to the people of reference in the form of the modern nation-state must be protected and is the measure of life. What irwho threatens the people of reference is killable and is the measure of death.
This matter of belonging, of being one of the people is a very serious matter.
The differentiation underlying modern peoplehood, therefore, is not simply a matter of who is killed and who is protected. It is the measure of life and death. It is a matter of which lives are nourished and which lives are passed over, if not actively starved or hunted down, both across the border of the body politic and throughout its teeming complex.
Consider in that context, the wandering Jew. Jews have, for many centuries, been stateless and peopleless except unto themselves; expelled from this country and that country, confined to living here or there, defined as the archetypal "other".