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The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible Paperback – April 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This short volume attempts to apply biblical teachings to the present-day U.S. immigration crisis. Hoffmeier, a professor of Old Testament and archeology who was born in Egypt, argues that the Hebrew Bible's many legal and ethical proscriptions against mistreating the alien were addressed to a class of people who in this day and age might be thought of resident aliens or permanent residents—not illegal immigrants. He also argues that the so-called sanctuary movement, in which church leaders have on occasion sheltered illegal immigrants from imminent arrest, is twisting biblical statutes and subverting federal law. The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like. (Apr. 30)
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"Read this book if you want to throw light on the subject of immigration and not merely more heat. Dr. Hoffmeier's biblical exegesis gives us valuable perspective on national borders, guest workers, the difference between documented aliens and foreigners in Old Testament times, and many other matters."
Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World News Group

"Doubtless some will question this or that detail of his reading of Scripture, but Hoffmeier's book is a very healthy antidote to the merely sentimental readings that dominate much Christian thought on this complex and challenging issue."
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"The Immigration Crisis offers biblical perspectives on how Christians might respond to the complex needs and challenges that legal and illegal immigration pose. Dr. James Hoffmeier's knowledge of the ancient Near East unlocks the door to the biblical wisdom that shaped Israel's compassionate response to this timeless issue. You will discover how love and compassion for immigrants involves so much more than building or removing walls and deciding who receives or is denied amnesty."
Vin Upham, Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, New Hartford, New York

"Hoffmeier has produced an authoritative work on what the Bible does and does not say about immigration. He allows the Bible to speak for itself within its cultural context without reading modern politics into the text. While his knowledge of the biblical text and the greater ancient Near East sets the groundwork for an accurate hermeneutical approach, his sensitivity to the issues provides a road map for the church to stay true to its biblical roots while serving its calling to be a light to the nations."
Steven M. Ortiz, Associate Professor of Archaeology and Biblical Backgrounds, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"I come from a troubled nation from which hundreds of thousands of people have emigrated to western nations-some legally and some illegally. Many have done so because of genuine pain, danger, or need they have experienced in Sri Lanka. I have always discouraged people from using illegal means to do this and often preached about this in Sri Lanka. I resonate fully with the dual biblical emphasis presented in this book of caring for the alien and of submitting to the laws of the land."
Ajith Fernando, Teaching Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka

"Dr. Hoffmeier has written with insight and balance. There is biblical compassion and legal accountability throughout the pages of this engaging journey of history and culture. This book should provoke meaningful discussion among civil and church leaders on this timely topic of immigration."
Roger Haber, Senior Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Middleborough, Massachusetts

"How can we resolve the immigration crisis in America today with humane sensitivity but with respect for the rule of law? James Hoffmeier brings the clarity and structure of biblical society to the confusion and chaos of modern America. He is one of the rare scholars and thinkers who listens to the Bible and does not tell the Bible what it should say. He hears the Bible speaking about the true meaning of sanctuary and of being a part of a society rather than a stranger. As a rabbi, I have shared Hoffmeier's conclusions with members of my Jewish community who are fascinated and open to hear the message of this provocative and intellectually stimulating book. For anyone who believes in the Judeo-Christian way of life, this book is essential reading. I wish that we could have more books like this on the other important controversies of our time."
Benjamin Scolnic, Temple Beth Sholom, Hamden, Connecticut; Adjunct Professor, Southern Connecticut State University

"With his book Immigration Crisis, Jim Hoffmeier has done the church a real service. He brings the Word of God to bear on one of the most pressing political and social issues of our day. Hoffmeier himself is especially well-equipped to bring us guidance on this issue. His own life, family, and career have been deeply intertwined with the issues of immigrants and aliens. Coupled with his long and fruitful career as a Biblical scholar, Hoffmeier has the tools to help us. A real strength of the book is its panoramic view of the entire canon. Certainly those of us who follow Christ need biblical light to shine on these pressing questions of our day. I would highly recommend Jim Hoffmeier's work as a wonderful starting place for developing a biblical perspective on the immigration crisis."
Vic Gordon, Senior Pastor, Beachpoint Church, Fountain Valley, California


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433506076
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433506079
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James K. Hoffmeier (PhD, University of Toronto), who has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels for more than thirty years, is now professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern archaeology at Trinity International University. Born and raised in Egypt, he has been a refugee from war and an alien in two different countries, making him sensitive to immigration issues.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Bailey on January 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Of the modern political controversies, the question surrounding illegal immigration is the one that causes me the most self-doubt. I have long held that contempt of law should never be rewarded and that amnesty is not the proper response. However, in the last few years, God has taught me to love justice. My compassion for the immigrant wars with the clear sense of right and wrong concerning the law. So, a while back (read a year and a half) I elected to receive an early review galley copy of a book on the subject. I shamefully have just gotten around to reading it.

The book is written by an Old Testament scholar at Trinity International University and attempts to collect the biblical evidence that might be applied to the issue of illegal immigration in an easy to ready format. I generally appreciate the books narrative structure, essentially tracing the story of Israel from Abraham to the Exile and then jumping to Jesus before concluding. Unfortunately, this narrative approach does not pay the dividends one might expect. Hoffmeier's book contains lengthy paraphrasing of biblical stories set off by inordinately long block quotes of biblical text. He largely fails to actually make an argument when he works through this material instead choosing to leave his points only loosely connected to the present discussion.

Hoffmeier also makes several interpretive arguments that are more assertions than arguments. For example, he attempts to align certain Hebrew words with legal resident and non-legal resident arguing that the text makes an important distinction between them. This might be the case, but Hoffmeier offers no philological evidence to back up his claim with the exception of noting that the LXX uses proselytos indicating a religious understanding of the term for some.
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By Joe P. McAdams on October 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern archaeology at Trinity International University and Egyptian born American citizen, James K. Hoffmeier knows about immigration from a biblical standpoint and from personal experience.

There is much confusion and disagreement among Christians about how to handle the current immigration crisis in America. Some say we should welcome all outsiders and others support strong immigration laws. Can such disparate views be supported by the same Bible?

The Immigration Crisis is a biblical study of immigration that focuses mostly on the Old Testament. There is less focus on the New Testament simply because there are very few people featured there who are migrating from one place to another. Hoffmeier cuts through the confusion and rightly divides the Word of God helping his reader to gain a biblically informed understanding of immigration. The words alien, foreigner, and, sojourner appear in our English Bibles but they do not all mean the same thing. Understanding the differences brings much needed clarity.

According to the biblical record aliens were permanent residents who were from another country. Foreigners were not. Hence, a straightforward reading of Scripture declares that the alien and the foreigner were not the same. To become an alien, a permanent resident in a country other than your country of origin, required the explicit invitation of the host country.

Hoffmeier does not spend much time applying these principles to the current immigration debate in America. But, those who make the Bible their foundation should understand what the Bible says about immigration before quoting Scriptures in defense of their cause.

The Immigration Crisis is a must read for anyone who wants to think biblically about immigration.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Roberts on May 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author evinces compassion for and a welcome to immigrants, but the purpose of the book is to read the Bible carefully to highlight its treatment of this topic. Most welcome is his superb OT analysis, arising from proficiency in the biblical languages and the world of the ancient near east. This analysis shows how ancient Israel lived in a world not unlike ours regarding immigration and how the scriptures distinguished between legal and illegal aliens and give not one warrant for blurring the distinction or treating the illegal as if they were legal. The ancient Hebrews were understandably sensitive to immigration issues because they were legal immigrants into Egypt. But when there arose "a pharaoh who knew not Joseph," they experienced quickly and painfully an abrupt change in status when they went from being legal resident aliens to being enslaved. Thus the scriptures that tell these Hebrews not to mistreat aliens/immigrants. But there is no comfort offered to those who wish to set themselves and their political opinions above the law in order to justify treating illegal aliens as if they are legal.
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By josh on October 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is the worst case of eisogesis published by Crossway. Crossway typically published solid, gospel centered, biblical resources, but this book was a guy doing hermeneutical gymnastics to show that a Hebrew word means a legal resident alien. There is nothing in the context of those 90 plus verses to indicate this. His point is showing that immigrants need to have permission. Tell me how Israel had permission from the Canannites to enter their land, destroy them and take their land? Are we only to love the sojourner who has the governments permission to be here? Or should Chrsitians love and show hospitality to all people? Romans 13 isn't the proof text that alone speaks to illegal immigration. The passages about treating the sojourner like a native is important to. Before we read our own political views into the biblical text, we need to get to know immigrants and find out why they came here.
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