It is a common belief that scripture has place in modern, secular politics. Graham Hammill challenges this tion in The Mosaic Constitution , arguing that Moses' constitution of Israel, which created people bound by the rule of law, was central to early modern writings about government and state. Hammill shows how political writers from Machiavelli to Spiza drew on Mosaic narrative to imagine constitutional forms of government. At the same time, literary writers like Christopher Marlowe, Michael Drayton, and John Milton turned to Hebrew scripture to probe such fundamental divisions as those between populace and multitude, citizenship and race, and obedience and individual choice. As these writers used biblical narrative to fuse politics with the creative resources of language, Mosaic narrative also gave them a means for exploring divine authority as a product of literary imagination. The first book to place Hebrew scripture at the cutting edge of seventeenth-century literary and political invation, The Mosaic Constitution offers a fresh perspective on political theology and the relations between literary representation and the founding of political communities.
Graham Hammill is associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is the author of Sexuality and Form and coeditor of Political Theology and Early Modernity, both published by the University of Chicago Press.