Exile and the Prophetic

Marc H. Ellis

We are incredibly excited to introduce “Exile and the Prophetic,” a Mondoweiss feature from noted theologian Marc H. Ellis. Ellis has been a leading thinker on Israel/Palestine and his work challenging the Jewish community and Constantinian Judaism has never been as vital as it is today.

Exile and the Prophetic coincides with Ellis’s departure from Baylor University and documents a moment of reflection and transition. From Ellis’s introduction to the series:

It may be a coincidence that my new exile arrives during the twenty-fifth anniversary year of the publication of my Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation. In that book I outlined what I still hold to be true – that the central facing us as Jews is justice for and reconciliation with the Palestinian people. Without both we as Jews are nowhere, at least ethically speaking. Of course, on the empire front we are everywhere, a vision I have seen come true in my own lifetime. But where does empire lead us? That is the question I asked twenty-five years ago. I am still asking it today. But the situation is much graver. As Jews, darkness surrounds us. We have entered an abyss.

There is also hope. I have witnessed that too in struggles I have participated in and the struggles that Jews of the new generation are waging. Years ago a Palestinian told me that the Jewish prophetic would never die. He was – is – right. The prophetic is our indigenous. It is exploding right before our eyes.

The prophetic is also in exile. As old as our scriptures. Yet it is important to think through what both the prophetic and exile mean for Jews today. That is for Jews of Conscience who seek to practice Jewish in an age where Empire Judaism seems triumphant.

Exile and the Prophetic is a daily diary that began July 4, 2012. All entries will be posted here.

Introducing ‘Exile and the Prophetic’: a new feature from Marc Ellis (7/4/12)

  1. The beach mezuzah (7/5/12)
  2. Tighter than tight (7/6/12)
  3. South Africa in the mirror (7/7/12)
  4. Chosen/Kairos (7/8/12)
  5. Traveling Jewish (7/9/12)
  6. The Jewish wheel of fortune (7/10/12)
  7. Jewish (Empire) Geography (7/11/12)
  8. How deep is (y)our – colonial mentality? (7/12/12)
  9. Squandered. Beginning again (7/13/12)
  10. The Jewish pandora’s box (7/14/12)
  11. Tell me, have you ever been fed by ravens? (7/15/12)
  12. Birthright prophetic (7/16/12)
  13. Overcoming partial practice (7/17/12)
  14. Helicopter gunships in the ark of the covenant (7/18/12)
  15. Prying eyes (7/19/12)
  16. The heartbeat of the prophetic (7/20/12)
  17. Mezuzah (God) watch (7/21/12)
  18. They left me with nothing (7/22/12)
  19. The (un)niversalist (Jewish prophet) Edward Said I knew (7/23/12)
  20. Gathering Light (7/24/2012)
  21. Revered to radioactive: peace gardens of the world beware! (7/25/2012)
  22. Chief Last Night (7/26/2012)
  23. Prophet Gray (7/27/2012)
  24. Rejected! Jewish ‘common sense’ religion (7/28/2012)
  25. Reading the Torah out loud (no rabbis allowed!) (7/28/2012)
  26. No prophet spoken here (7/29/2012)
  27. Genocide – donate now! (7/30/2012)
  28. After genocide, no justice (7/31/2012)
  29. Exporting the Holocaust (8/1/2012)
  30. Jewish (Holocaust) missionaries (8/2/2012)
  31. Plan B (8/3/12)
  32. I’m leaving on a (Nazi/German) jet plane, don’t know…. (8/4/2012)
  33. Henry’s letter (8/6/2012)
  34. Decolonizing the Holocaust (8/7/2012)
  35. On both sides of the Congo Line, Jetlag JewTu (8/8/2012)
  36. The ever-expanding world of the bereaved (8/9/2012)
  37. Have you been conquered by the bible? (8/10/2012)
  38. Uprooted Jew, coming to a Palestinian town near you (8/11/2012)
  39. Imagine there’s no prophetic, I wonder if you can (8/12/2012)
  40. Collecting (Palestinian) books (8/13/2012)
  41. Israel’s ‘Never-again’ drones in German uniforms (8/14/2012)
  42. Normalizing the Hitler Youth (8/15/2012)
  43. BGS/BDS — It’s never easy on the Jewish front (8/17/2012)
  44. Jewish (Re)education (8/18/2012)
  45. Romero rising (8/19/2012)
  46. Where will Jews rise? (8/20/2012)
  47. (Jewish) birth certificate in the new diaspora (8/21/2012)
  48. Dancing with wolves (8/22/2012)
  49.  A (Jewish) pedagogy for/of the oppressor (8/23/2012)
  50. Romney’s Romero blood money (8/24/2012)
  51. When the Jewish student is ready (8/25)
  52. Archipelago Palestine (8/26/2012)
  53. On empty suits and olive trees (8/27/2012)
  54. Rachel Corrie rising (8/28/2012)
  55. Rachel Corrie, righteous gentile (8/29/12)
  56. Shoah business (8/30/12)
  57. Rachel Corrie – On the field of battle (8/31/12)
  58. War crimes (9/1/2012)
  59. What about an encyclopedia prophetica? (9/2)
  60. Zen and the art of special book collections (9/3)
  61. Now Isaiah knows (9/4)
  62. Zen and the star of David helicopter gunship maintenance (9/5)
  63. Preparing our defense for the coming days of awe (9/6)
  64. Einstein on (my) beach (9/7)
  65. Plus Suffering (9/8)
  66. Rabbis for Jewish Rights (9/9)
  67. Sounding the Prophetic Gong (9/10)
  68. A Cross on the Beach (9/11)
  69. Missing Muna (9/12)
  70. Our Jewish Anechoic Chamber (9/13)
  71. Mahatma Condi (9/14)
  72. Living in the Oprasphere (9/15)
  73. James Baldwin’s coalition is ours (9/16)
  74. If Rosh Hashanah Returns (9/17)
  75. The Prophetic under the Banyan Tree (Thought poem on the Jewish New Year) (9/18)
  76. When David Gregory Came to My Seder (9/19)
  77. The Next Four Years (9/20)
  78. Researching the Jewish future in the Israel State Archives (9/21)
  79. The Americanization of Israeli power (9/22)
  80. The Jewish civil war interviews (9/23)
  81. My (un)invited exchange with John Mearsheimer (9/24)
  82. B’Tselem and the end of Jewish history (9/25)
  83. The day without a future (9/26)
  84. My encounter with Alan Dershowitz — sort of (9/27)
  85. The circled wagons (9/28)
  86. Hashtag #BibiBombCaption (9/29)
  87. Live From New York! (10/1)
  88. Without the prophetic (10/2)
  89. Kitsch Israel (10/3)
  90. ‘israel’ (10/4)
  91. Presidential debate hangover (10/5)
  92. Adelson’s triumph signals Israel’s end as a battlefield for Jewish identity (10/8)
  93. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (10/9)
  94. When the Russell Tribunal leaves town the machinations of the powerful remain (10/10)
  95. The ‘Free Gaza’ tweets and the challenge for those seeking justice for Israel/Palestine (10/12)
  96. Listening to Sara Roy (10/13)
  97. Who speaks for ‘palestine’? (10/14)
  98. Reporting the end of Jewish history, so that a new beginning is possible (10/15)
  99. ‘Body Worlds’ and the prophetic (10/16)
  100. ‘Body Worlds’ after life (10/17)
  101. Interfaith IMAX (10/18)
  102. Distinguishing between Jews and The Jews (10/20)
  103. Chomsky in Gaza (10/21)
  104. Remembering George McGovern (10/22)
  105. Chomsky’s presidential debate appearance (10/23)
  106. Chomsky’s absent ‘Jewish’ (10/24)
  107. Chomsky and the epic battle between Jewish empire and the Jewish prophetic (10/25)
  108. Red lines (10/26)
  109. VIPs (10/27)
  110. Do Jews and Palestinians ‘share’ the Holocaust and the Nakba? (10/29)
  111. How much justice will there be in a ‘just’ resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (10/30)
  112. Palestine in pieces (10/31)
  113. When the Holy Land 5 attorneys reached out to me (11/1)
  114. The Holy Land 5 were railroaded (11/2)
  115. Brazil’s barbarians at Israel’s gate: South American Israel lobby tries to shut down World Social Forum on Palestine (11/3)
  116. Getting past triumphalism (in our traditions and our selves) (11/4)
  117. Election eve (Jewish) blues (11/5)
  118. Chomsky’s ‘Letter from a Gaza Jail’ (11/6)
  119. Two more years (11/7)
  120. The Clinton Presidency(s) (11/8)
  121. Obama’s (and our) Jewish politics (11/9)
  122. Forget the ‘fiscal cliff’ — could Israel fall off the American political cliff? (11/10)
  123. People have been predicting a ‘game change’ in Israel/Palestine since the early 80s. Why hasn’t it happened? (11/11)
  124. The interfaith ecumenical deal is dead (11/12)
  125. The 15 most wanted (Church leader) list (11/13)
  126. The face of war (11/14)
  127. The Jewish community’s entire life is bound up with war (11/15)
  128. Jewish warrior culture and Israel’s unraveling (11/16)
  129. Is Israel going Gaza rogue? (11/17)
  130. The last gasp of the ‘purity of arms’ — robocalls over Gaza (11/18)
  131. Few are guilty – all are responsible (11/19)
  132. A state of moral emergency (11/20)
  133. Gaza’s referendum on Jewish leadership (11/21)
  134. Gaza and the ethics of Jewish power (11/22)
  135. Square one (11/24)
  136. Benjamin Netanyahu’s self-constructed hologram (11/25)
  137. Gaza is world’s largest live military test site (11/26)
  138. Gaza City is right around the corner from the Warsaw Ghetto (11/27)
  139. What kind of future does empire and isolation hold for Jews in Israel and beyond? (11/28)
  140. Empire detoxification (11/29)
  141. Taking the U.N. cure (11/30)
  142. Avoiding the Hague (12/1)
  143. Amos Oz leaves out Edward Said and Sara Roy (12/2)
  144. The recycled air of the Jewish establishment (12/3)
  145. Israel’s original sin (12/4)
  146. An acknowledged future (12/5)
  147. Rabbi Gordis’s ‘innermost circle’ of caring (12/6)
  148. Question for B’nai Jeshurun – What red line needs to be crossed for you to speak out without reservation? (12/7)
  149. The rabbis before them (12/8)
  150. Hope against hope (12/9)
  151. Clinton’s dinner with Elie Wiesel (12/10)
  152. Elie Wiesel and the history of the court Jew (12/11)
  153. Is Israel too big to fail? (12/14)
  154. Israel’s failure and the Jewish civil war (12/15)
  155. Stuck inside of Israel with the Diaspora blues again (12/16)
  156. An Israeli plots her escape from Israel (12/17)
  157. Michael Walzer, repeat intimidator (12/19)
  158. Branding the Holocaust (12/20)
  159. The Holocaust and Jewish power (12/21)
  160. The day I spoke at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (12/22)
  161. The United States Nakba Memorial Museum (12/23)
  162. Narrating Palestine (12/24)
  163. A Christmas tree at Auschwitz (12/25)
  164. Redeeming the Christmas season? (12/26)
  165. The Western Wall is as political as the Apartheid Wall (12/27)
  166. Gender equality is worth struggling for. Gender equality within Constantinian Judaism isn’t. (12/28)


  1. Throwing stones (4/12/13)
  2. Women of the Wall-washing (4/13)
  3. Shulamith Firestone (4/14)
  4. Jew in the Box (4/15)
  5. Judith Butler marks the end (and beginning) of the Jewish ethical tradition (4/16)
  6. Judith Butler’s Israel (4/17)
  7. Boston and the drone wars (4/18)
  8. Is BDS an act of resistance – and remembrance? (4/19)
  9. Boston’s interfaith memorial deflection (4/20)
  10. An open appeal to Cardinal Sean (4/21)
  11. Performing the Nakba (4/22)
  12. Exporting our expertise (4/23)
  13. Disaster payout czar Kenneth Feinberg, Gaza and One Fund Boston (4/24)
  14. Farewell to Salam Fayyad and American innocence (4/25)
  15. Obama’s library-in-waiting (4/26)
  16. Our rogues gallery (4/27)
  17. Phantom pain and the cycle of atrocity (4/28)
  18. Psychologist Shpancer leaves out Palestinian trauma (4/29)
  19. Hiding in plain sight (4/30)
  20. Introduction to Jews and Empire 101 (5/1)
  21. Land swaps in Israel/Palestine (and a bridge for sale in Brooklyn) (5/2)
  22. State swap (5/3)
  23. Google Palestine (5/4)
  24. The Church of Scotland weighs in (5/5)
  25. Vultures over Syria (5/6)
  26. Getting Israel ‘right’ (5/7)
  27. Triaging Palestine (5/8)
  28. Leaving Palestine behind represents the victory of Empire Jewishness (5/9)
  29. Henry Siegman — Elder Jewish (prophetic) statesman (5/10)
  30. The Jewish code of silence (5/11)
  31. Encountering Otto Maduro (5/12)
  32. Peter Beinart’s ‘I love Israel’ (5/13)
  33. Jump-starting the prophetic (5/14)
  34. The Nakba marches on (5/15)
  35. While the Church of Scotland dallies, the United Church of Canada forges ahead (5/16)
  36. Joseph Massad strikes again (5/17)
  37. No dissenter is an island (5/18)
  38. The Jewish Identity Network (5/19)
  39. Disappearing Massad, disappearing Palestine (5/20)
  40. My Father’s death (5/21)
  41. My name is the Church of Scotland and I am a recovering….. (5/22)
  42. Does John Kerry have the keys to Kafka’s (middle east) castle? (5/23)
  43. Notes from a ‘marginal Jew’ (5/24)
  44. Freeing the president (5/25)
  45. Kerry offers Palestinians a photo-op (5/27)
  46. If the US wants a two-state solution, it will have to impose it by force (5/28)
  47. Swords into ploughshares (5/29)
  48. Talking points for Secretary Kerry Re: New Jerusalem (5/30)
  49. Fifty years apart, Arendt and Butler represent the flowering of the Jewish prophetic in our time (5/31)
  50. Hannah Arendt’s Jewish politics (6/1)
  51. Hannah Arendt’s Israel moment (6/2)
  52. (Accurately) reporting Alice Walker’s truth (6/3)
  53. Barghouti’s warning – the alternative to two states is ‘persistent conflict’ without any middle ground (6/4)
  54. A word from the (Jewish) Secretary of Pandering (6/5)
  55. Crossing the – Israel – and Palestine – Rubicon (6/6)
  56. Samantha Power’s quest (6/7)
  57. Film Review: ‘Hannah Arendt’ is a love letter, eulogy and elegy to the prophetic voice (6/10)
  58. What Samantha Power didn’t learn from Hannah Arendt (6/11)
  59. Arendt vs. Wiesel at the crossroads of Jewish empire consciousness (6/12)
  60. ‘Hannah Arendt’ and the future of conscious pariahs (6/13)
  61. (Jewish) gatekeepers (6/14)
  62. Atoning for the sins of empire (6/15)
  63. Father’s Day– don’t despair (6/16)
  64. Bought and sold (6/17)
  65. Latest DC mantra: The two-state solution is dead, long live the two-state solution! (6/18)
  66. Tough love from Clinton at a ‘left-leaning’ celeb party beats having anything to do with Palestinians (6/19)
  67. ‘We turned a refusing land into an inspiring oasis’ –the narcissism of Shimon Peres (6/20)
  68. Sharon Stone and the anti-occupation Jesus (6/21)
  69. The new Jewish flirtation with Jesus (6/22)
  70. Naming it Palestine, and being censored for doing so (6/23)
  71. Edward Snowden, on the run (6/24)
  72. Israel’s (global) enablers (6/25)
  73. The Secretary of Pandering arrives in Israel, again (6/27)
  74. Kerry’s couples therapy is a setup for failure (6/28)
  75. Obama’s reverence for Mandela has failed on every count (6/29)
  76. Obama’s Robben Island (6/30)
  77. Our confession at Nelson Mandela’s funeral (7/1)
  78. The bench under the tree outside Nyerere’s house (7/2)
  79. Searching for a legacy in Africa (7/3)
  80. Celebrating Morsi’s ouster is easy, naive and shortsighted (7/4)
  81. Egypt’s martial law (7/5)
  82. Jews of conscience takeaway on Egypt (7/6)
  83. US had final say in Egyptian coup (7/7)
  84. Q: Will Arab Spring benefit the Palestinian cause? A: No (7/8)
  85. The Mubarak (re)turn (7/9)
  86. Egypt’s magnanimous donors (7/10)
  87. Egyptian coup reveals the ‘deep state’ in all our lives (7/11)
  88. Mohamed Morsi’s rendition to Guantanamo (7/12)
  89. Progressives and the military — bound together, in the US and Egypt (7/13)
  90. Whither Morsi? (7/14)
  91. American vigilantism and Egypt’s too (7/15)
  92. Egypt’s ‘revolution’ will be televised (7/16)
  93. Is EU’s stand on settlements a carrot or a stick? (7/17)
  94. Power and Kerry work to deliver the Security Council and Jerusalem to Israel (7/18)
  95. Investigating Egypt’s massacre (7/19)
  96. Talking — about talking (7/20)
  97. Are Kerry’s caveats the terms of Palestinian surrender? (7/21)
  98. Oslo returns (7/22)
  99. Speaking stridently, without apology (7/23)
  100. Is Benjamin Netanyahu the George Zimmerman of the Middle East? (7/24)
  101. Egypt on the brink (7/25)
  102. Coupless in Cairo (7/26)
  103. Is the Egyptian revolution regime change? (7/27)
  104. Egypt’s failed state actors legitimate themselves (7/28)
  105. Israeli negotiator demanded that Palestinians delete the word ‘Nakba’ upon getting a state (7/29)
  106. Negotiating away memories (7/30)
  107. Is the peace process a dangerous addiction? (7/31)
  108. The interfaith ecumenical deal asylum seekers (8/1)
  109. John Kerry’s democratic coup in Egypt (8/2)
  110. Drone hypocrisy (8/3)
  111. What are Jews to do with our newfound imperial/colonial identity? (8/4)
  112. On collective traumas (8/5)
  113. Ground control to former President Morsi (8/6)
  114. John McCain’s odyssey into international law (8/7)
  115. Fukushima’s Ice Wall meets the Israeli-Palestinian Apartheid Wall (8/8)
  116. Egypt over the brink (8/16)
  117. In Egypt, fascist incitement (8/18)
  118. Mubarak is released while the Obama administration second guesses its second guess (8/19)
  119. President Obama’s secret plan for Egypt (8/20)
  120. The Cairo morgue (8/22)
  121. Egypt’s revolution was an exercise in magical realism (8/23)
  122. Are we all Islamists now? (8/25)
  123. Will we survive the revival of religiosity? (8/26)
  124. Striking Syria (8/28)
  125. 50th anniversary nostalgia of the March on Washington helps disguise our lack of progress (8/29)
  126. Obama’s double standard on Syria, Egypt and Israel (9/1)
  127. No one knows what Obama stands for (9/2)
  128. By caving on Syria, Obama opens yet another Pandora’s Box of American adventurism (9/3)
  129. Rosh Hashanah and the Primal Prophetic (9/4)
  130. Breaking through the Empire’s glass ceiling (9/7)
  131. President Obama’s Yom Kippur moment (9/9)
  132. Obama missile strikes on Syria trumped by rejection of his interventionist logic (9/10)
  133. Obama punts on Syria (9/11)
  134. Putin’s exceptionalism and our own (9/12)
  135. Should Jews break bread on Yom Kippur? (9/13)
  136. Yom Kippur’s ancient extremity (9/14)
  137. Our indigenous preoccupation (9/15)
  138. Lustick sounds the alarm on the two state solution, but offers little alternative (9/16)
  139. Ilan Pappe weighs in on One State (9/17)
  140. ‘Most Wanted’ poster of imperial Jewish life hypes attack on Syria (9/18)
  141. Israel and its Middle East allies have embraced the three state solution (9/23)
  142. Is Rwanda the Israel of Africa? (9/24)
  143. The idea of exceptionalism moves in different ways – toward community or toward empire (9/25)
  144. The Holocaust cannot be used to justify Israel’s abuse of Palestinians (9/26)
  145. What Jewish leader is willing to take up the opportunity Rouhani has provided? (9/27)
  146. Netanyahu is the wolf in wolf’s clothing (9/28)
  147. Hotel Rwanda at Cooper Union (9/29)
  148. Obama and Netanyahu discuss the colonial question of questions on Iran (9/30)
  149. How long can Netanyahu’s deception last? (10/1)
  150. Israel’s painful concessions are like Iran’s nuclear weapon — a fantasy (10/2)
  151. Israel’s apartheid isn’t just political, it’s ideology wrapped in history and religion (10/3)
  152. When myths about Jews collide with Jewish reality (10/7)
  153. Till American Empire do us part (10/8)
  154. Our rabbis are afraid of their Israel shadow (10/9)
  155. Netanyahu’s cycle of violence (10/12)
  156. The ‘Trickle-Down Security State’ (10/13)
  157. Isaiah’s complaint (10/14)
  158. The unasked question in the PEW poll on American Judaism (10/15)
  159. Is the Jewish Theological Seminary dreaming of a world where Palestine and Palestinians don’t exist? (10/17)
  160. I have eyes, I have eyes (for a people being cleansed and ghettoized) (10/18)
  161. Jews turn away from Judaism, Jewishly (10/19)
  162. Interfaith solidarity from the perspective of a Jewish theology of liberation (10/26)
  163. Interfaith ecumenical dialogue should give way to interfaith solidarity for Palestine (11/16)
  164. Aberrational Judaism (11/18)
  165. Winning the world and losing our (particular) soul (11/19)
  166. ‘Never again’ has changed (11/21)
  167. Signing away the Jewish future (11/22)
  168. The current round of talks leads inevitably to… the Jordanian option (11/26)
  169. Palestinians increasingly concerned Jordan may be given control of West Bank in future deal (11/27)
  170. Haunting throwaways (12/18)
  171. This is the most dangerous peace process of all (12/19)
  172. Beinart’s (colonial) Jewish (imperial) democratic state (12/20)
  173. Zionists saw themselves as part of a Jewish liberation struggle (12/21)
  174. A Jewish Christmas message to the unsaved world (12/22)
  175. On Christmas let us begin begin to reverse the process of fragmentation (12/24)
  176. Snowden’s Christmas address (12/25)
  177. One London church goes on the record with ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ (12/26)
  178. A Palestinian messenger (12/27)
  179. Unintended consequences (12/28)
  180. What Would Jesus Do (on his birthday in Jerusalem)? (12/29)
  181. Infiltrating the New Year (12/31)


  1. Is the time right for a palace revolution? (1/9)
  2. Disillusioned with a Jewish State (1/10)
  3. Thug (1/12)
  4. Sharon’s debris (1/13)
  5. Provocateur (1/14)
  6. After Sharon (1/15)
  7. The (Jewish) N-Word (1/16)
  8. Israel’s castle (1/19)
  9. Kerry’s Saudi recipe for Palestinian homelessness (1/20)
  10. Kerry’s Syrian illusion (1/21)
  11. Are we all Egyptians? (1/26)
  12. The US charade in Egypt, Syria and Palestine (1/28)
  13. (Their) State of the Union (1/29)
  14. Celebrity justice (1/30)
  15. The demand for a demilitarized state is telling Palestinians to give away the right to be free (2/3)
  16. Will there be an empowered Palestinian collective? (2/4)
  17. The Two-State SodaStream Solution (2/6)

{ 7 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. W.Jones says:

    Thank you for your writing and work, Marc.

    The term “Constantinian religion”, meaning equating a state’s goals with a religion’s could be a misnomer: As the article Constantinian Christianity (link to the-orb.net) points out, Constantine himself merely legalized Christianity, continued to allow several religions, and only converted to Christianity from paganism much later before dying.

    In any case, it’s true there’s a parallel to Christianity’s official position in Christian states- that Christianity had such a position in Christian states is a justification given for having a rabbinical state.

    Now having a state religion may not be so unjustifiable either from the perspective of a prophet, since ancient Israel itself had Judaism as its state religion. In the first few centuries leading up to Christianity, wasn’t a state religion actually an ideal in Judaism, going back to the time of King David if not earlier?

    To propose a religious model without a political king would go back to the time before King Saul. And to propose a religious model without a state seems to go back to early pre-Mosaic Judaism and pre-Constantine Christianity.

    • W.Jones says:

      “And to propose a religious model without a state seems to go back to early pre-Mosaic Judaism and pre-Constantine Christianity.” This also brings to mind Jesus’ words about his kingdom not being an earthly one when asked by Pilate about whether he was a political king to replace Caesar.

    • AllenBee says:

      This is the first I’ve read of Marc Ellis’s work and I’m eager to read more.

      I’m also eager to pursue the “Constantinian Judaism” line of thought. A few weeks after hearing Sanam Anderlini tell an Occupy AIPAC audience that the history of Persia has been eliminated from American public school curricula, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Persia has also been written out of the New Testament. Why is that? Very few scholars or popular books discuss the Roman-Persian wars; the history of Middle East vis a vis Rome in the era of Christ has Judaism at the center of the debate. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. But Persia was still a major force in the region, providing for all civilizations that emerged from the region enormous and foundational cultural elements: Karen Armstrong argues that Zoroaster predated and prefigured the Axial Age ethicists of which the Jewish prophets are part.

      Furthermore, Jews were more free in Persia in the time of Christ and the Constantinian era than they were in Jerusalem under the Romans; in fact, it was Persians and a large contingent of Persian Jews who carried out a blood-soaked assault on Jerusalem in 614 CE (yea, post-Constantine) to liberate co-religionist Jews in Palestine.
      My working hypotheses are that: 1. Constantine would have sought to distance his ‘new religion’ from anything associated with Rome’s enemy, Persia; therefore, since Constantine oversaw the composition of the Christian Canon, and much else of Christian doctrine in this formative stage, he would have required the exclusion of Persia.
      2. Simultaneously, even though exiled from Jerusalem’s precincts, Jews remained a force to be reckoned with – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The Israel lobby would doubtless have persuaded Constantine that it was in his interest to cast his lot with Jewish merchants, etc. rather than with enemy Persians — in spite of the fact that many Jews lived securely and prosperously in Persia, and that Persians had stuck their necks out to aid Jews in the Roman empire. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

      Anyway, it’s a work in process, and I’m eager to read your perspective on the issue. Thanks.

      Personal note — Is Marc acquainted with Dr. Chris van Gorder from Baylor? I met Chris while he was working on his specialty study.

      • W.Jones says:

        By the way, when the attack you mentioned occurred in the 7th century, the Persians didn’t destroy the Church of the Nativity depicting the Magi because of their resemblance to Persian wise men.

        So although Persia may not have been a big focus in 1st century Judea, there could be an allusion to it after all. Another reason could be that early Christianity considered itself an outgrowth of ancient Judaism rather than some form of pagan religion. That pagan wise men were searching for the star doesn’t exclude Christianity’s Jewish basis either: I think it is in Isaiah that people came to Israel from a pagan government- perhaps Babylon- because they noticed a major miracle occurring there.

  2. Freija says:

    I am very very pleased to read professor Dr. Marc Ellis’ texts of such honesty. A sunny island in a dark sea of lies. I will translate all the texts into german to give pleasure to the truth hungry readers.
    You are an enlightenment in the dark night of unconsciousness
    Thank you Dr. Ellis

  3. lukelea says:

    Dear Marc Ellis: I look forward to reading this series. Meanwhile you might be interested in this:

    link to sites.google.com

    You might also be interested in a meme I’ve been pushing for a long time, namely, that Europe must play a much more active role in settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it can do, first, by acknowledging it historic responsibility for causing the conflict (it was European anti-Semitism, after all, that drove the Jews out of Europe, and it was European statesmen who decided to solve their “Jewish problem” by giving someone else’s land away); and second, by agreeing to a generous, on-going program of aid and investment in any future Palestinian state as part of any final settlement worked out between the parties involved: link to mondoweiss.net

    Ezer Weizman’s memoirs had as an epithet, “Israel shall be redeemed by judgment.” I agree. Substituting principles of reason and equity in place of force and fraud as the way to settle human differences — to me that is the essence of the Jewish mission in this world, and has been from the beginning. The final measure of success, however, is not whether the Jewish people themselves honor these principles through precept and example — though, of course, that is essential — but rather the extent to which they have persuaded other peoples to honor them in their relations with each other. In this case these other peoples are the Europeans and the Palestinians. This is the ultimate test case.

  4. lukelea says:

    Make that an epigraph not epithet, from Isaiah: “Zion shall be redeemed by judgment.” Boy am I getting old.

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