Israel As the ‘Hermeneutical Jew’ in Protestant Statements on the Land and State of Israel: Four Presbyterian Examples

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Abstract. This article studies four major Protestant Christian statements on the State of Israel, from the Presbyterian Church (USA) (1987, 2012) and the Church of Scotland (2003, 2013). While they initially advocate a secular, non-theologized view of Israel, they then paradoxically assess ‒ and often critique ‒ it using Scriptural texts and Christian theological concepts. These assessments are analysed using Jeremy Cohen’s model of the ‘hermeneutical Jew’, which describes a pre-modern Christian construction of the Jew as possessing Scripture but reading it incorrectly (e.g. too literally, particularistically). It is argued that the model applies to these modern Christian statements which view Israel as a hermeneutical Jew. They cast Israel as a corporate religious entity by which the Jewish people might fulfil their religious obligations, but criticize it for failing to properly interpret and apply Scripture in its policies. The article then critiques the appropriateness and accuracy of their viewing Israel as a hermeneutical Jew.

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