2009. december 13., vasárnap

American Brethren: Hebrews and Puritans

American Brethren: Hebrews and Puritans


Jim Sleeper
World Affairs
2009 Fall

Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in political science at Yale University. His books include The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York (Norton, 1990) and Liberal Racism (Viking, 1997). He wishes to thank the Yale Religion and Politics Colloquium, at which an early version of this article was presented last year.


For most of us, the Old Testament names given to scores of American towns (Canaan, Bethlehem, Sharon, Lebanon, even Jerusalem) and the Hebrew phrases on the seals of Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia are the only visible remnants of the Puritans’ all but forgotten attempt to Hebraize their Calvinist Christianity in the seventeenth century. The Puritans lost their juridical and ecclesiastical grip on the country centuries ago; and most American Jews, legatees though they are of the Hebrew covenant, arrived here too late (and often too lapsed) to seed in any notably religious way the republican society they have otherwise so vigorously engaged.

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