University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Conceptions of Organised Violence, Individual Life, and Divine Command in Classical Rabbinic Judaism

Conceptions of Organised Violence, Individual Life, and Divine Command in Classical Rabbinic Judaism

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This paper explores classical rabbinic literature’s conception of the infinite value of individual human life and the ways in which this conception points to a sharp qualitative difference between ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ forms of justified killing and violence. Precisely through the same modes of thought that sanction the former (in certain limited cases), these sources frequently end up ruling out the latter in practical terms, while nevertheless upholding it in principle. A key factor in this regard is the rabbinic requirement of direct divine command, a requirement that transforms the normative import of biblical texts that could otherwise appear to lend support to organized violence.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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