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Michigan State University

The Myth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

JMC Library, Case Hall

January 16, 2024

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The Hebrew Bible offers the best known story of the twelve tribes of Israel – who they are, what they experienced, and what happened to them in the end. But all around the world, there are other stories – other people who identify as Israel, or have been so identified by others, usually through stories about where one or more of the tribes went after the close of biblical history. This paper explores the fascinating phenomenon of a world full of Israels – using the same traditions to claim the same past in different ways for different reasons.

Andrew Tobolowsky is the Robert and Sara Boyd Distinguished Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary, specializing in the study of the Hebrew Bible from diverse comparative perspectives. The Myth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, published by Cambridge University Press, is his second book.

Co-Sponsors: College of Arts & Letters, College of Social Science, Department of History, Department of Religious Studies, International Studies & Programs, James Madison College, Office of Institutional Equity, and Residential College in the Arts & Humanities