Description - Jewish Martyrs in the Pagan and Christian Worlds by Shmuel Shepkaru
This book presents a linear history of Jewish martyrdom, from the Hellenistic period to the high Middle Ages. Following the chronology of sources, the study challenges the general consensus that martyrdom was an original Hellenistic Jewish idea. Instead, Jews like Philo and Josephus internalized the idealized Roman concept of voluntary death and presented it as an old Jewish practice. The centrality of self-sacrifice in Christianity further stimulated the development of rabbinic martyrology and the talmudic guidelines for passive martyrdom. However, when forced to choosed between death and conversion in medieval Christendom, Ashkenazic Jews went beyond these guidelines, sacrificing themselves and loved ones. Through death not only did they attempt to prove their religiosity, but also to disprove the religious legitimacy of their Christian persecutors. While martyrs and martyrologies intended to show how Judaisim differed from Christianity, they, in fact, reveal a common mindset.
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(228mm x 152mm x 27mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Author Biography - Shmuel Shepkaru
Shmuel Shepkaru is an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Oklahoma University.