Conflict and Identity in ancient Judaism

Visualising War and Peace

Jan 17 2024 • 35 mins

In this episode, Alice interviews Dr Joseph Scales, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder in Norway. Joe’s doctoral research analysed spaces of Jewish identity in ancient Galilee, looking particularly at the impact of material culture on personal, communal and regional identity formation during the Hasmonean dynasty, from 100 BCE onwards. His book Galiliean Spaces of Identity will be published in 2024.

Joe’s work on Jewish and Hellenistic identities, and their cross-cultural interactions, has led to further research on ancient Jewish texts written in Greek, which enable us to understand aspects of the shared culture of the ancient Mediterranean world; and he has become very interested in women’s practices and rituals in Judaism. Both of these research interests feed into his current project, called Fighting Talk: Motivating Violence in Ancient Judaism, which examines the nature of pre-battle speeches in ancient Jewish texts and their relationship to established forms of pre-battle exhortation in Greek and Roman sources.

Because the politics of the region in this period are so complex, we have recorded a Part 1 and a Part 2 for this podcast. In this episode, Part 1, Joe  talks us through Jewish interactions with other groups and political powers in the region from around 175BCE to the early 2nd century CE – to help us understand the history of Judea and Jerusalem, and the ways in which ongoing conflict (near and far) shaped Jewish practice and identity, not just at the time but for many centuries afterwards. In Part 2 (which we hope you will also listen to, because it’s super interesting!), Joe  dives deep into some of the textual sources from the period, looking particularly at the ways in which they visualised battle itself and justified war.

We hope you find the discussion interesting. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please visit the University of St Andrews' Visualising War website.

Music composed by Jonathan Young
Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin