The Call of Abraham

Essays on the Election of Israel in Honor of Jon D. Levenson

Edited by Gary A. Anderson and Joel S. Kaminsky

Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity

The topic of the election of Israel is one of the most controversial and difficult subjects in the entire Bible. Modern readers wonder why God would favor one specific people and why Israel in particular was chosen. One of the most important and theologically incisive voices on this topic has been that of Jon D. Levenson. His careful, wide-ranging scholarship on the Hebrew Bible and its theological reuse in later Judaic and Christian sources has influenced a generation of Jewish and Christian thinkers.

This focused volume seeks to bring to a wide audience the ongoing rich theological dialogue on the election of Israel. Writing from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, the authors—Jews, Catholics, and Protestants—contribute thought-provoking essays spanning fields including the Hebrew Bible, apocryphal and pseudepigraphic literature, New Testament, rabbinics, the history of Christian exegesis, and modern theology. The resulting book not only engages the lifelong work of Jon D. Levenson but also sheds new light on a topic of great import to Judaism and Christianity and to the ongoing dialogue between these faith traditions.

Gary A. Anderson is Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Joel S. Kaminsky is a professor of religion at Smith College.

Contributors: Gary A. Anderson, Leora Batnitzky, Richard J. Clifford, S.J., W. Randall Garr, Greg Schmidt Goering, Matthias Henze, Marc Hirshman, Joel S. Kaminsky, James Kugel, Kevin Madigan, Bruce D. Marshall, R. W. L. Moberly, Mark Reasoner, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Brooks Schramm.

“This volume is an excellent contribution to a crucial question of both ancient and contemporary importance. The essayists give a whole range of ways to consider Jewish election both in its historical and conceptual incarnations. The complexity and richness that emerges from this range is a major strength of the collection and one that is without parallel.” — C. Kavin Rowe, Duke Divinity School

“The Call of Abraham is an extraordinary collection that will interest several groups: not only scholars of scripture, ancient Judaism and Christianity, and theology, but any Jews or Christians who wonder how their own tradition has viewed the idea of the chosen people, how those views developed, and how they relate to those of the other community that calls the Hebrew Bible its scripture. The book contains essays of real depth and learning, yet they are accessible to readers outside the academy. They are an appropriate tribute to Jon Levenson, whose depth, clarity, and theological honesty they imitate.” — Benjamin D. Sommer, The Jewish Theological Seminary

“D. Levenson is seen by many to be the premier biblical theologian today: a scholar who has illuminated the theology pervading the Hebrew Scriptures, and who has explicated its deeper meaning for both Jews and Christians. The excellent essays in this volume, dealing with the election of Israel, a persistent theme in biblical theology and a persistent concern of Levenson’s, are a fitting tribute to the importance of Levenson’s thought for the distinguished authors of this volume. The Call of Abraham deserves the serious attention too of all theologically interested Jews and Christians, especially those who like these authors are in sustained conversation with one another.” — David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

“The scholarship in The Call of Abraham is magnificent. The essays are uniformly of a very high quality. Depending on the essay, the fields that benefit from the scholarship of this volume include Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, intertestamental/Second Temple Judaism, Jewish theology, New Testament, and Christian theology. This work is of profound significance for scholars in all these areas.” — Matthew Levering, Perry Family Foundation Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary