The Hebrew Bible displays a complicated attitude toward cities. Much of the story tells of a rural, agrarian society, yet those stories were written by people living in urban environments. Moreover, cities frequently appear in a negative light; the Hebrew slaves in the book of Exodus were forced to build cities, and the book of Samuel’s critique of monarchy assumes an urban setting that supports that monarchy. At the same, time Ezra-Nehemiah makes restoration of Jerusalem and its wall a holy priority, and Genesis 1–11 (and subsequent references to the primeval narrative) show a much more layered view of the dangers and opportunities of the urban context. As the world’s population continues to move into cities and we debate the impact on human life and the natural environment, it becomes increasingly important to know how the biblical writers understood the ways in which urban life enhances and disrupts human thriving. In this book, McEntire offers a comprehensive and hopeful understanding of the Bible and the city.
is Professor of Biblical Studies at Belmont University in Nashville. He is the author of several important books on the Hebrew Bible, including Portraits of a Mature God: Choices in Old Testament Theologyand A Chorus of Prophetic Voices: Introducing the Prophetic Literature of Ancient Israel.