Category Archives: Schoolin’

Review of Exile as Forced Migrations by John Ahn

Exile as Forced Migration

A sub-thesis running throughout Prof. John Ahn’s Exile as Forced Migrations is the idea that social structures repeat; specifically for our purposes, that generational patterns of consciousness repeat throughout history, within radically different contexts. Ahn identifies two such contexts in the first chapter of his book: Hebrew Scriptural reaction to the Babylonian Exile, and the scholarship surrounding the Exile since the mid-19th century. In both settings, responses emerge from a first, second, and third generation, as well as a transitional, 1.5 generation. In the case of the Hebrew Bible, Ahn points to the 2 Kings account of the end of the Davidic covenant and the displacements of 597 and 587 BCE as the first generation response. This view of the Exile focuses on the people displaced (kings, rulers, skilled workers, etc), and sees the Exile as overwhelmingly negative. A second generation’s response is found in Jeremiah. Here displacements are described in stark figures, with no mention of class, presenting a less “caustic” or confrontational view (pg. 4). Jeremiah explains that this experience is part of God’s plan. Taking this one step further is Second Isaiah, who represents a third generation. This prophet emphasizes that the experience of exile is part of being made a “new creation,” and holds a constructive view of the situation.

Continue reading


Review of The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Cover via FSG

The goal of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath is clear from the prologue: Heschel wishes to reestablish the Sabbath day as a celebration of holiness in time. In a civilization that cherishes production, tangible products carry utmost importance. The condition runs so deep, in fact, that Heschel describes our reality itself as being comprised of tangible objects: “Reality to us is thinghood, consisting of substances that occupy space” (pg 5). In opposition to this model, Heschel identifies what is first declared “holy” in the Genesis creation story. It is not a place, or an object, but the seventh day. It is this time that God sanctifies, and in the next ten chapters, Heschel makes a compelling argument for the return to observance of the Sabbath as holy time. This is not in opposition to labor or the civilized spaces of this world, but rather that which gives meaning to these other endeavors. Heschel argues that both are necessary, but one must always remember the priority: “We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things” (pg 6).

Continue reading