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Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism

Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism
Community and Identity in Formation

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About the Authors
  • In this book, Ari Mermelstein examines the mutually-reinforcing relationship between power and emotion in ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish writers in both Palestine and the diaspora contended that Jewish identity entails not simply allegiance to God and performance of the commandments but also the acquisition of specific emotional norms. These rules regarding feeling were both shaped by and responses to networks of power - God, the foreign empire, and other groups of Jews - which threatened Jews' sense of agency. According to these writers, emotional communities that felt Jewish would succeed in neutralizing the power wielded over them by others and, depending on the circumstances, restore their power to acculturate, maintain their Jewish identity, and achieve redemption. An important contribution to the history of emotions, this book argues that power relations are the basis for historical changes in emotion discourse.

    • Theorizes the relationship between power, emotion, and identity
    • Analyses a broad array of ancient Jewish sources to demonstrate the importance of this relationship
    • Provides an account of Jewish identity which includes not just practice and belief but also emotion
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    Product details

    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108934633
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Jewish Emotional Resistance to Gentile Power-Over in the Greco-Roman Diaspora:
    1. Emotional resistance to physical power-over: the performative power of the public spectacle in 4 Maccabees
    2. Emotional resistance to domination: feeling rules as proxies for power in Joseph and Aseneth
    3. Resistance to emotional stereotypes: emotional stereotypes and power dynamics in 3 Maccabees
    Part II. Jewish Emotional Discourse in Response to Divine Power-Over: Emotions in the Context of Tragedy and Trauma:
    4. Overcoming divine power-over: righteous anger in 1 Maccabees
    5. Coping with divine power-over: grief in 4 Ezra
    Part III. The Dead Sea Sect as Emotional Community: The Power and Powerlessness of Feeling Like a Sectarian
    6. Feeling rules in the construction of communal identity: sectarian feelings in the Hodayot
    7. The power of fear: strategic manipulation of fear in the construction of a sectarian emotional community
    8. Sectarian ritual and the cultivation of an emotional habitus.

  • Author

    Ari Mermelstein, Yeshiva University, New York
    Ari Mermelstein is the author of Creation, Covenant, and the Beginnings of Judaism: Reconceiving Historical Time in the Second Temple Period (2014) and co-editor of The Divine Courtroom in Comparative Perspective (2014). He is a member of the steering committee of the Society of Biblical Literature's 'Bible and Emotion' group.

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