We Are Family: Deuteronomy 14 and the Boundaries of an Israelite Identity

Dermot Nestor


Through an engagement with the dietary prohibitions of Deuteronomy 14, this article seeks to provide a corrective to the dominance of constructivist perspectives within recent reconstructions of Israelite ethnic identity. Drawing upon research in the field of cognitive psychology and the work of Pierre Bourdieu, it argues that the Priestly vision of ascribed membership in the entity Israel is framed by an essentialist mode of ethnic cognition which was widely diffused within Israelite society. The identification and isolation of this particular brand of classificatory logic accounts not only for the persuasive potential of the dietary prohibitions themselves, but in the process challenges the theoretical status quo on ethnicity amongst biblical scholars.


Deuteronomy 14; ethnicity; Pierre Bourdieu

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391