There's a great documentary series currently on BBC television entitled How God Made the English. The first part - A Chosen People? - is still available on BBC iPlayer (be sure to view it quickly before it is removed). It's documentary-making in its prime and rousing stuff if you are English, offering fascinating insight in how England has proved adept at constructing powerful and enduring myths. In the programme the presenter explores how the English captured, internalised and actualised the biblical concept of the Jews as God's chosen people for themselves, so that the English became the new chosen people. This English sense of "chosenness" went on to shape and drive English identity, confidence and self-perceptions. The result is a sense of immense self-confidence (even superiority), all the stronger because it was perceived as having divine backing.
Yet this English sense of "chosenness" and superiority is quite at odds with the Jewish understanding of the concept expressed by the rabbi interviewed in the film. For him, being chosen brings with it considerable responsibility and consequences, neither does chosenness mean exclusivity or superiority over others. Chosenness is for a purpose, not a means in itself. This understanding is far removed from the historical English version explored in the documentary promulgating supreme self-confidence and a sense of superiority (I'm reminded of that saying, "An Englishman will treat you as his equal if you will treat him as your superior".)
This raises an interesting question. To what extent is this latter understanding of chosenness driving a rejection of the Jews as God's chosen people by some English churchmen who are vocal on these issues? In other words, is it their Sitz im Leben, their life context and setting as Englishmen, which has shaped their (mis)understanding of the concept of chosenness through the lens of an English sense of superiority (even arrogance), rather than an Old Testament understanding of chosenness (including all its duties, responsibilities and consequences)? I am asking the extent to which a specifically English preoccupation with and expression of supersessionism might have been brought about by a post-imperial rejection of English nationalism.