(D13) Violence Against Oneself and Against Others in Ancient Judaism

Ancient Judaism represents a period in Jewish history in which the relationship between religion and politics had to be redefined because of the different occupying powers in Palestine and the resulting consequences (destruction of the temple and loss of statehood), and in which the issue of the legitimacy of religiously motivated violence was of utmost topicality due to the changed historical conditions. The best-known example of a collective suicide in Jewish history – the suicide at Massada (73 AD) − took place in this period. The different currents within ancient Judaism not only ask the question of the legitimacy of violence against oneself and against others, of violence against people of different faiths and against fellow Jews, of violence against individuals and against collectives for the first time, they also answer it differently.

In the project, the propositions of ancient Judaism on religiously legitimised violence will first be compiled and typologised. The sources to be included here are rabbinic literature, the Apocrypha and the Jewish reception of Josephus Flavius, the Sefer Josippon. Based on this, the religious and political notions, ideas and concepts of ancient Judaism that emerge in the context of violence will be classified as to religious and cultural history, with interreligious and intercultural influences to be brought out in particular. The most important question will be how the different manifestations of religious violence are sacralised; which concepts are developed in order to not only prevent the sacralisation of violence but to reduce the overall potential for violence; and how the relationship of religion and politics turns out to be if violence is sacralised.


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