Performing Execution, Part 1

Beth A. Berkowitz

in Execution and Invention

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780195179194
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784509 | DOI:
 Performing Execution, Part 1

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This chapter focuses on the people who enact an execution according to rabbinic law, beginning with those found in the Bible: the blood-avenger, the community, and the witnesses to the crime. It argues that the blood-avenger serves as a focal point for tensions between the individual and the rabbinic authorities. In addressing the role of the community and witnesses, it shows that the Rabbis withdraw the agency of execution from the community and deliver it into the hands of the crime’s witnesses. This transfer of power can be interpreted as a strategy for controlling the power of execution, while at the same time maintaining some distance from the execution itself.

Keywords: blood-avenger; community; witnesses; Bible; rabbinic law; rabbinic authorities; agency of execution; transfer of power; control; distance

Chapter.  16088 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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