Subproject 1: Passions and Plots in Emerging Judaisms

Work package 1 (Feldt): Total Devotion in the Hebrew Bible and 2nd Temple Judaisms

Emotions play an important role in narratives about exemplary devotion in the Hebrew Bible and in 2nd Temple literature (ca. 5th cent. BCE to 2nd cent. CE). The analysis of emotion expressions and story effects (steps a-b) forms the basis for an assessment of step c in the strategy of analysis, and a discussion of the emergence of radical religion in the 2nd Temple era. The selected key texts are: Deut. 1-11, 2 Kings 22-23, Daniel 3 and 6, Maccabees 1-4 (esp. 1 Macc 6, 2 Macc 7 and 14, and 4 Macc 5), and the “Jewish” gospel of Matthew. I analyse emotion expressions (such as ʾhb (“love”), yrʾ (“fear”), et al.) used of an intense, emotional, loyalty-relationship between deity and devotee/s, and story composition effects, arguing that emotional practices play key roles in the Tanakh and 2nd Temple literature about total devotion - contrary to a long-standing, though not uncontested, scholarly consensus (Feldt submitted). The project thus throws new light on decisive processes of religious change in emerging forms of Judaism. 

Work package 2 (NN PhD): Total Devotion in Rabbinic Judaism (2nd – 6th cent. CE)

Radical religion in Rabbinic sources have mainly been studied from the perspective of martyrdom, not in the broader terms of total devotion and emotio-narrative practices. Martyrdom is understood as the culmination of of the devotee’s deepest longings, but also to correspond to the command to love Yahweh (Deut 6,5). So, emic devotion ideals also revolve around the love of God and the claim of monotheism and feature prominently in the tradition about Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Akiva, the story of the seven sons of Miriam bat Tanhum, in the traditions about the bond of suffering and the Binding of Isaac, Lamentations Rabbah, and more. This project maps the relevant Rabbinic sources and traces the reception and transformation of total devotion ideals in close dialogue with SP1. The Rabbinic texts clearly recycle elements of earlier Jewish literature, esp. 2 and 4 Maccabees, but also the command to love and total devotion (Deut. 6,5). The project proceeds in close comparative discussion with SP2, as the time period in which the Rabbinic movement came into its own correlates with the emergence of the new Christian religion.