Even the chosen community failed in its obligation and had to be summoned back, time and again, to its responsibility by the prophets—the divinely called spokespersons who warned of retribution within history and argued and reargued the case for affirmative human response.Israel’s role in the divine economy and thus Israel’s particular culpability were dominant themes sounded against the motif of fulfillment, the ultimate triumph of the divine purpose, and the establishment of divine sovereignty over all humankind.
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The people of Israel believed that their response to the divine presence in history was central not only for themselves but for all humankind.
Furthermore, God—as person—had revealed in a particular encounter the pattern and structure of communal and individual life to this people.
It is this particular claim—to have experienced God’s presence in human events—and its subsequent development that is the differentiating factor in Jewish thought.
Moreover, the ancient Israelites’ entire mode of existence was affected by their belief that throughout history they stood in a unique relationship with the divine.
In nearly 4,000 years of historical development, the Jewish people and their religion have displayed a remarkable adaptability and continuity.