In Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists and Palestine before Israel
(University of Alabama Press, 2020), Walker Robins explores how Southern Baptists engaged what was called the “Palestine question”: whether Jews or Arabs would, or should, control the Holy Land after World War I. He argues that, in the decades leading up to the creation of Israel, most Southern Baptists did not directly engage the Palestine question politically. Rather, they engaged it indirectly through a variety of encounters with the land, the peoples, and the politics of Palestine. Among the instrumental figures featured by Robins are tourists, foreign missionaries, Arab pastors, converts from Judaism, biblical interpreters, fundamentalist rebels, editorialists, and even a president. While all revered Palestine as the Holy Land, each approached and encountered the region according to their own priorities.
Robins book grounds Southern Baptist pro-Zionist and pro-Israeli support in a fascinating discourse of politics, theology, class, and culture that sheds light on current political and religious alliances. The book is an important contribution to scholarship of American religion, evangelical history, and U.S. foreign relations.
Lane Davis is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University where he studies American religious history. Find him on Twitter @TheeLaneDavis