God’s Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine Chosenness

Michael Coogan. Beacon, $26.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0194-3
In this concise, lucid book, Coogan (God and Sex), lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School, assimilates thousands of years of history to argue that humans should give up religiously based tribalism. Coogan uses logic and historical facts to make the case that what humans often refer to as God’s will to favor one group over another is, in fact, a human act. He looks at various places in the Bible in which Jews (or some subset of the Jewish people) or Christians lay claim to a special God-given “chosenness.” He shows that these texts, though afforded divine authority, are often contradicted by other biblical passages that call for inclusiveness. For instance, views on foreigners in Isaiah 56:3 6–7 (“foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh... their burnt offerings... will be acceptable”) are then contradicted by Nehemiah 13:23–25 (“You should not take their daughters for you sons... I cleansed them from everything foreign”). Coogan’s argument is convincing and supported with well-chosen examples, and his measured take will persuade (if not completely convince) any reader willing to listen. Coogan’s rigorous work deserves a wide audience. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2019
Release date: 04/02/2019
Genre: Religion
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