The Study of Emotions in Early Jewish Texts: Review and Perspectives

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract

This article reviews recent research on emotions in the field of early Judaism, mostly in literature. The article starts with an example from the biblical story of Joseph, to illustrate the need for a culturally sensitive understanding of emotions. Various approaches to emotions are then examined: philology and the history of the self, the construction of identity, structures of power (including gender), experiences with the divine, and emotions as adaptive practices. Each section starts with a brief outline of the scholarship conducted in other fields and serving as a background for research on early Judaism. The conclusion considers several facets of emotions, as they are highlighted by various disciplines; cultural manipulations of emotions often harness the tensions that may result from these multiple facets. The article closes with a brief assessment of the contribution of emotion research to the broader study of early Judaism and with perspectives for further research.

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