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Wartime Rape, the Romans, and the First Jewish Revolt

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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  • 1 Department of Religious Studies, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, ca 93108, USAcreeder@westmont.edu
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In contrast with the breadth of references to rape in historiographies, narratives, and visual depictions of war across the Greco-Roman world, the relatively few references to rape in stories of the First Jewish Revolt are remarkable: Josephus, j.w. 4.560 and 7.344, 377, 382, 385; 4 Ezra 10:22; Lam. Rab. 1:16; b. Giṭ. 56b, 57b-58a. This paper explores the use and significance of rape as a weapon in Roman warfare as context for interpreting the references to rape in the earliest reflections on the revolt, Josephus’s Jewish War and 4 Ezra, proposing that the limited number of these references in Josephus in particular relates to his larger goal of reconstructing Jewish identity (especially in terms of masculinity) in post-revolt Rome.

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