Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity

Politico-Cultural, Philosophical, and Religious Forms of Critical Conversation


In Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity scholars reflect on politico-cultural, philosophical, and religious forms of critical conversation in the ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, Graeco-Roman, and early-Islamic world. They enquire into the boundaries between debate, polemics, and intolerance, and address their manifestations in both philosophy and religion. This cross-cultural and inclusive approach shows that debate and polemics are not so different as often assumed, since polemics may also indicate that ultimate values are at stake. Polemics can also have a positive effect, stimulating further cultural development. Intolerance is more straightforwardly negative. Religious intolerance is often a justification for politics, but also elite rationalism can become totalitarian. The volume also highlights the importance of the fluency of minorities in the dominant discourses and of their ability to develop contrapuntal lines of thought within a common cultural discourse.

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George van Kooten, Ph.D. (2001), Leiden University, is the Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. His interests and expertise concern the contextualization of the New Testament writings in their Graeco-Roman context. Jacques van Ruiten, Ph.D. (1990), Catholic University Amsterdam, is Professor of the Reception History of the Bible at the University of Groningen. He has published extensively on the reception history of biblical texts, especially in early Judaism. Recently, he was visiting fellow at the Pontificio Instituto Biblico, Rome (2016-17). Contributors are: Robbert van den Berg, Stefan Beyerle, George Boys-Stones, Reuven Firestone, Pieter B. Hartog, Paul Heck, Paulin Ismard, George van Kooten, Marjo C. Korpel, Dominik Markl, Steve Mason, Peter Franz Mittag, James C. Oleson, James Carleton Paget, Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, Jacques van Ruiten, Diego R. Sarrió Cucarella, Clare Wilde.
List of Illustrations
List of Contributors

Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity: Politico-Cultural, Philosophical, and Religious Forms of Critical Conversation in the Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, Graeco-Roman, and Early Islamic Worlds

part 1: Discourses within the Ancient Near East and Early Judaism

1 Religious Intolerance in the Ancient Near East
Marjo C. A. Korpel

2 Polemics against Child Sacrifice in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History
Dominik Markl

3 Jubilees 11–12 against the Background of the Polemics against Idols in the Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature
Jacques van Ruiten

4 Intolerance in Early Judaism: Emic and Etic Descriptions of Jewish Religions in the Second Temple Period
Stefan Beyerle

part 2: Discourses with Greek and Roman Powers

5 Intolerance and Freedom of Thought in Classical Athens: the Trial of Socrates
Paulin Ismard

6 Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s Policy towards the Jews
Peter Franz Mittag

7 Contesting Oikoumenē: Resistance and Locality in Philo’s Legatio ad Gaium
Pieter B. Hartog

8 Stranger Danger! Amixia among Judaeans and Others
Steve Mason

part 3: Discourses between Greeks, Christians, and Jews

9 Difference, Opposition, and the Roots of Intolerance in Ancient Philosophical Polemic
George Boys-Stones

10 John’s Counter-Symposium: “The Continuation of Dialogue” in Christianity—A Contrapuntal Reading of John’s Gospel and Plato’s Symposium
George van Kooten

11 Valentinian Protology and the Philosophical Debate regarding the First Principles
Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta

12 Celsus’s Jew and Jewish Anti-Christian Counter-Narrative: Evidence of an Important Form of Polemic in Jewish-Christian Disputation
James Carleton Paget

13 The Emperor Julian, Against the Cynic Heraclius (Oration 7): A Polemic about Myths
Robbert M. van den Berg

part 4: Discourses between Muslims, Jews, Christians and Greeks

14 Qurʾanic Anti-Jewish Polemics
Reuven Firestone

15 Christian-Muslim (In)tolerance? Islam and Muslims according to Early Christian Arabic Texts
Clare Wilde

16 The Intolerance of Rationalism: the Case of al-Jāḥiz in Ninth-Century Baghdad
Paul L. Heck

17 The Law of Justice (šarīʿat al-ʿadl) and the Law of Grace (šarīʿat al-faḍl) in Medieval Muslim-Christian Polemics
Diego R. Sarrió Cucarella

part 5: Modern Cinematic Reflection

18 Writing History with Lightning: D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance and the Imagined Past
James C. Oleson

All interested in the phenomena of intolerance and polemics in Antiquity, both in the ancient Near East and in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, including early Judaism, early Christianity, and early Islam, both in philosophy and religion.
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