Paula Fredriksen: Israel’s God is “Jewish”

Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 115.

Israel’s god, in Jewish tradition, stands at the apex of humanity. The other elohim bow down to him; he alone is supreme. But his universality is ethnically inflected: this god chooses Israel from among all the other nations, setting them apart by giving them his torah, “teaching.” He speaks to Israel’s patriarchs and prophets in Hebrew. He is the “father” of Israel, and of Israel’s Davidic kings. He, too, keeps the Sabbath, accompanied by two orders of circumcised angels. His earthly dwelling-place is in Jerusalem, at the temple; and it is in Jerusalem, around his temple, that his Kingdom will come. This god is the source of Israel’s election and the divine partner in their covenant. In brief, according to Jewish traditions, Israel’s god is himself “Jewish.”

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