Old Canaan in a New World

9781479866366: Hardback
Release Date: 21st April 2020

2 hts

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 272

NYU Press

Old Canaan in a New World

Native Americans and the Lost Tribes of Israel

Hardback / £28.99
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.

Were indigenous Americans descendants of the lost tribes of Israel?
From the moment Europeans realized Columbus had landed in a place unknown to them in 1492, they began speculating about how the Americas and their inhabitants fit into the Bible. For many, the most compelling explanation was the Hebraic Indian theory, which proposed that indigenous Americans were the descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. For its proponents, the theory neatly explained why this giant land and its inhabitants were not mentioned in the Biblical record.
In Old Canaan in a New World, Elizabeth Fenton shows that though the Hebraic Indian theory may seem far-fetched today, it had a great deal of currency and significant influence over a very long period of American history. Indeed, at different times the idea that indigenous Americans were descended from the lost tribes of Israel was taken up to support political and religious positions on diverse issues including Christian millennialism, national expansion, trade policies, Jewish rights, sovereignty in the Americas, and scientific exploration.
Through analysis of a wide collection of writings—from religious texts to novels—Fenton sheds light on a rarely explored but important part of religious discourse in early America. As the Hebraic Indian theory evolved over the course of two centuries, it revealed how religious belief and national interest intersected in early American history.

Elizabeth Fenton is professor of English at the University of Vermont. She is the author of Religious Liberties: Anti-Catholicism and Liberal Democracy in Nineteenth-Century US Literature and Culture (2011) and co-author, with Jared Hickman, of Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon (2018).