Jacob & Esau Today: The End of a Two Millennia Paradigm?


Book Section (Essay)

The Jacob & Esau typology collapsed in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the State of Israel. Christians renounced the supersessionist typology with Vatican II and Protestant initiatives for Christian–Jewish Dialogue. Religious Zionists wove Edom into a messianc vision of israel. Esau, never before a symbol for Muslims, now became an Arab. The 1967 War and the 1968 Student Revolution signaled further changes in Europe and israel. East German-Jewish screenwriter, Jurek Becker's Holocaust novel, Jacob the Liar (1969), reversed the antisemitic stereotype and made Jacob an emblem of European humanity. Benjamin Tamuz’s novel Jacob (1972) relegitimated Jewish Diaspora cosmopolitanism. in the past three decades, Esau has become a Jewish and Israeli hero. Meir Shalev’s novel, Esau (1991), a saga of three-generations of a family of bakers in a village near Jerusalem, parodies the rabbinic typology: Esau is a diasporic Jew, Jacob a Zionist, and neither finds happiness. Orthodox British rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, tells a multicultural story of Jacob and Esau as "both precious to G-d." Modern Orthodox Israeli rabbi, Benjamin Lau, calls for an alliance of Jacob and Esau against Ishmael. Among the Jewish Settlers, Esau represents alternatively the secular Jew unjustly rejected, and the Israeli fighter bearing the weight of defense.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hacohen, MH

Cited Editors

  • Nimrod Bar-Am and Stefano Gattei,

Published Date

  • 2017

Volume / Issue

  • 325 /

Book Title

  • Encouraging Openness: Essays for Joseph Agassi on the Occasion of His 90th Birthday

Start / End Page

  • 167 - 190

Published By


  • 24

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 978-3-319-57669-5