America, G.K. Chesterton once observed, was "a nation with the soul of a church." Make that a shul: As Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land, a powerful new book, argues, "the American Republic was born to the music of the Hebrew Bible."
Its editors—Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik, Matthew Holbreich, Jonathan Silver, and Stuart W. Halpern, of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University—make their case, in the fine tradition of our wise forefathers, by laying before us scroll after scroll of source material, showing us the Biblical thread that binds everything from the Mayflower Compact to Lincoln's second inaugural address.
Clarified by the editors' illuminating introductions, these historical documents make a strong case for just how firmly our republic was always rooted in the fertile theological soil of the Hebrew bible. Rather than the transactional spirit of John Locke, who they preceded, the pilgrims were moved by a deeper, wilder spirit. Here, we see them speaking not of social contracts—a shaky base, that, for something as unearthly as a nation—but of covenants, the newcomers to America understanding themselves to be the latest in a human chain that began with Noah and Abraham and that owes its existence to its Creator and His will.