On the elusiveness and malleability of “Israel”
AbstractWords not only reproduce reality, they produce it to us. Wittgenstein has suggested that the meaning ("Bedeutung") of words is established in and through use. Moreover, he compared language (as parole) to a game that can be fully understood only by those who know its rules (language as langue). These rules are radically linked to the actual practice of the game. This article focuses on the term "Israel" in the Hebrew Bible, because it offers us an excellent example of the broad range of references that a term may develop overtime. The article concludes with a reminder to exegetes and theologians that they should refrain from assuming beforehand that if a term is repeatedly read in, read (out) or recited in a text, it must always mean the same within the text itself or, for that matter, in the plane of interaction between text and the exegete or theologian.