Burt, “In the Whirlwind”

Here is a book which might be described as comparative political theory, and will certainly interest those readers who are looking for a treatment of the law and justice of religious traditions: In the Whirlwind: God and Humanity in Conflict (HUP 2012) by the distinguished constitutionalist Robert A. Burt (Yale).  The publisher’s description follows.

God deserves obedience simply because he’s God—or does he? Inspired by a passion for biblical as well as constitutional scholarship, in this bold exploration Yale Law Professor Robert A. Burt conceptualizes the political theory of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. God’s authority as expressed in these accounts is not a given. It is no less inherently problematic and in need of justification than the legitimacy of secular government.

In recounting the rich narratives of key biblical figures—from Adam and Eve to Noah, Cain, Abraham, Moses, Job, and Jesus—In the Whirlwind paints a surprising picture of the ambivalent, mutually dependent relationship between God and his peoples. Taking the Hebrew and Christian Bibles as a unified whole, Burt traces God’s relationship with humanity as it evolves from complete harmony at the outset to continual struggle. In almost every case, God insists on unconditional obedience, while humanity withholds submission and holds God accountable for his promises.

Contemporary political theory aims for perfect justice. The Bible, Burt shows, does not make this assumption. Justice in the biblical account is an imperfect process grounded in human—and divine—limitation. Burt suggests that we consider the lessons of this tension as we try to negotiate the power struggles within secular governments, and also the conflicts roiling our public and private lives.

One response

  1. “In the Whirlwind paints a surprising picture of the ambivalent, mutually dependent relationship between God and his peoples.” Perhaps Prof. Burt’s god is dependent on something. But the true God, the God of the Bible, is “dependent”on NOTHING. Prof. Burt reminds me to, again, thank God I never went to college.

    John Lofton, Editor, Archive.TheAmericanView.com
    Recovering Republican
    JohnLofton.com
    JLof@aol.com

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