In a comprehensive examination of how Christian scholars in the
United States received, interpreted, and understood Hebrew texts
and the Jewish experience, Shalom Goldman explores Hebraism's
relationship to American society. By linking history, theology, and
literature from the colonial period through the twentieth century,
Goldman illuminates the religious and cultural roots of American
interest in the Middle East.
"God's Sacred Tongue" is structured around a sequence of
biographical and intellectual portraits of individuals including
Jonathan Edwards, Isaac Nordheimer, Professor George Bush (an
ancestor of President George W. Bush), and twentieth-century
literary critic Edmund Wilson. Since the colonial period, America
has been perceived as a western Promised Land with emotional,
spiritual, and physical links to the Promised Land of biblical
history. Goldman gives evidence from scholarship, diplomacy,
journalism, the history of higher education, and the arts to show
that this perception is linked to the role Hebrew and the Bible
have played in American cultural history.
The book's final section takes up the story of American
Christian Zionism, among whose Protestant adherents political
Zionism found much of its strongest support. Religious and cultural
figures such as William Rainey Harper and Reinhold Niebuhr are
among those who exemplify the centuries-old ties between America,
the Land of Promise, and Israel, the Promised Land.
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