Paradoxes of Power

Beth A. Berkowitz

in Execution and Invention

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780195179194
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784509 | DOI:
 Paradoxes of Power

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This chapter explores the relationship between rabbinic execution and Roman execution, asking how the rabbinic experience of Roman execution may have shaped the Rabbis’ own laws of execution. It focuses on a text from the Mishnah and Tosefta that features a dispute about the proper method of decapitation according to rabbinic law. It suggests that the barely concealed subtext of this dispute is whether rabbinic power should model itself on Roman power, or reject it entirely. It then considers whether other rabbinic laws of execution may be driven by the same concern. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the quandaries the Rabbis faced as a minority group within the Roman Empire.

Keywords: Roman execution; Roman Empire; Roman power; decapitation; resemblance; rejection; minority group; subtext

Chapter.  13822 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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