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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 27, 2016

Mystical Unification or Ethnic Domination? American Biblical Archeologists’ Responses to the Six-Day War

  • Brooke Sherrard EMAIL logo


After the Six-Day War, members of the American Schools of Oriental Research experienced conflict over how and whether to maintain the organization’s policy on political neutrality. This article argues that ASOR members who supported Israel framed their views as theological, lauding the war for achieving a mystical unification of Jerusalem, while members who opposed the war’s outcome responded that appeals to theology and neutrality were being deployed to justify one ethnic group’s domination over another. I present two main examples, George Ernest Wright and Paul Lapp, and connect their scholarly views on objectivity versus relativism to their political views on the conflict. Wright, a biblical theologian, argued the Old Testament was an objective record of a religion revealed by God to the Israelites and defended the slaughter of Canaanites in terms that echoed justifications for Palestinian displacement. Conversely Lapp, who read the Old Testament as a polemical text, overtly connected his perspectivalism to his pro-Palestinian politics. In 1968 Wright clashed with ASOR residents, including Lapp, who protested Israeli plans to reroute a parade through recently captured areas of East Jerusalem. A reading of the correspondence record created after the protest analyzes the political implications of these differing scholarly positions.

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Published Online: 2016-4-27
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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