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In this eagerly awaited book, political theorist Michael Walzer reports his findings after decades of thinking about the politics of the Hebrew Bible. Attentive to nuance while engagingly straightforward, Walzer examines the laws, the histories, the prophecies, and the wisdom of the ancient biblical writers and discusses their views on such central political questions as justice, hierarchy, war, the authority of kings and priests, and the experience of exile. Because there are many biblical writers with differing views, pluralism is a central feature of biblical politics. Yet pluralism, Walzer observes, is never explicitly defended in the Bible; indeed, it couldn't be defended since God's word had to be as singular as God himself. Yet different political regimes are described in the biblical texts, and there are conflicting political arguments--and also a recurrent anti-political argument: if you have faith in God, you have no need for strong institutions, prudent leaders, or reformist policies. At the same time, however, in the books of law and prophecy, the people of Israel are called upon to overcome oppression and "let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream. "
This sequel to Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon's acclaimed Turning the Soul: Teaching Through Conversation in the High School presents a case study of two people learning to teach. It shows them engaging two groups of fourth grade students in discussion about the meaning of texts--what the author calls "interpretive discussion. The two groups differ with respect to race, geographical location, and affluence. As the novice teachers learn to clarify their own questions about meaning, they become better listeners and leaders of the discussions. Eventually, they mix the students from the two classrooms, and the reader watches them converse about a text as the barriers of race and class seem to break down. In addition to the detailed analysis of the case study,Learning to Teach Through Discussion: The Art of Turning the Soulpresents philosophical, literary, and psychological foundations of interpretive discussion and describes its three phases: preparation, leading, and reflection. A tightly argued work, the book will help readers learn to engage students of all ages in text interpretation.
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