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Between Belonging and Identity in Ancient Judaism: The Role of Emotion in the Production of Identity - Reviewed: Kinship, Law and Politics: An Anatomy of Belonging. By Joseph E. David. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 156. $110.00 (cloth); $88.00 (digital). ISBN: 9781108499682.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2022

Ari Mermelstein*
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of Bible and Second Temple Literature; Chair, Department of Bible, Hebrew, and Near Eastern Studies, Yeshiva University

Abstract

This essay considers the vexed relationship between belonging and identity. Belonging is not an objective or unreflective association but rather an emotional assertion of attachment. That emotional connection is an indispensable component of identity, which, as Joseph David argues in Kinship, Law and Politics: An Anatomy of Belonging, is a relationship charged with meaning. Accordingly, the distinction between belonging as a privately held sentiment and the politics of belonging overlooks the fact that the emotions associated with belonging define group membership. Belonging is not a private matter but an emotional relationship that shapes social life, reinforces a group’s identity politics, and finds expression in a group’s practices. Analysis of two case studies from ancient Judaism—the writings of Philo of Alexandria and the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls—demonstrates the emotional, social, and discursive dimensions of belonging and the role it plays in producing identity. Belonging is not a stable concept but is rather one that assumes different forms depending on the emotional orientation of the group and the particulars of identity politics. For Philo, belonging reflects a universalistic love for all humanity that helps shape an identity embracing Jewish practice and Greek virtue. By contrast, the Dead Sea sect’s antipathy toward all other Jews requires that a sense of belonging express not only love for fellow sectarians but also hate for all outsiders.

Type
Book Review Symposium on Kinship, Law, and Politics
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University

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References

1 On the dialectic “being–longing,” see David’s discussion at page 4.

2 See Sherif, Muzafer et al., The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1988), 199214 Google Scholar.

3 Sherif et al., 199–214.

4 See Baumeister, Roy F. and Leary, Mark R., “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation,” Psychological Bulletin 117, no. 3 (1995): 497529, at 508CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

5 Baumeister and Leary, 505–06.

6 See Mermelstein, Ari, Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism: Community and Identity in Formation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7 Mercer, Jonathan, “Feeling Like a State: Social Emotion and Identity,” International Theory 6, no. 3 (2014): 515–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 522.

8 See Anne-Marie Fortier, Migrant Belongings: Memory, Space, Identity (London: Routledge, 2020), 2. Fortier views “institutional narratives of identity as part of the longing to belong, as constituted by the desire for an identity, rather than surfacing from an already constituted identity.” Fortier, Migrant Belongings, 2.

9 See, for example, Armon-Jones, Claire, “The Thesis of Constructionism,” in The Social Construction of Emotions, ed. Harré, Rom (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988), 3256.Google Scholar

10 Rosaldo, Michelle, “Towards an Anthropology of Self and Feeling,” in Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion, ed. Shweder, Richard A. and LeVine, Robert A. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 137–57, at 143.Google Scholar

11 Marco Antonsich, “Searching for Belonging—An Analytical Framework,” Geography Compass 4, no. 6 (2010): 644–59, at 645. See also Yuval-Davis, Nira, “Belonging and the Politics of Belonging,” Patterns of Prejudice 40, no. 3 (2006): 197214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 On the performative dimension of emotion, see Monique Scheer, “Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and Is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understanding Emotions,” History and Theory 51, no. 2 (2012): 193–220. On emotional scripts, see Arlie R. Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, 3rd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).

13 See, for example, Gould, Deborah B., Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight against AIDS (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Goodwin, Jeff, Jasper, James M., and Polletta, Francesca, eds., Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

14 See Mermelstein, Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism.

15 See Antonsich, “Searching for Belonging,” 649.

16 For the idea that belonging is performed or displayed—an approach that views belonging as dynamic rather than static—see Bell, Vikki, “Performativity and Belonging: An Introduction,” Theory, Culture & Society 16, no. 2 (1999): 110 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and the articles published in that issue of the journal.

17 On new forms of Jewish practice and belief, see Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 49–99. On Jewish sectarianism during the Second Temple period, see Stemberger, Günter, Jewish Contemporaries of Jesus: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, trans. Mahnke, Allan W. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995).Google Scholar

18 On the ancient Jewish diaspora, see John M. G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE–117 CE) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996). For the study of later diasporas in the context of belonging, see Dalia Abdelhandy, “Representing the Homeland: Lebanese Diasporic Notions of Home and Return in a Global Context,” Cultural Dynamics 20, no. 1 (2008): 53–72; Thiranagama, Sharika, “Moving On? Generating Homes in the Future for Displaced Northern Muslims in Sri Lanka,” in Ghosts of Memory: Essays on Remembrance and Relatedness, ed. Carsten, Janet (Malden: Blackwell, 2007), 126–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

19 See Peter Schäfer, Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 136–60.

20 See Schäfer, Judeophobia, 15–33. On the association in Greek and Latin literature between a peoples’ laws and their character and its bearing on attitudes toward Jews, see Mason, Steve, “Essenes and Lurking Spartans in Josephus’ Judean War: From Story to History,” in Making History: Josephus and Historical Method, ed. Rodgers, Zuleika (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 219–61, at 223–25.Google Scholar

21 On apologetic literature as intended for Jewish consumption, see Victor Tcherikover, “Jewish Apologetic Literature Reconsidered,” Eos 48, no. 3 (1956): 169–93. On the possibility that some of Philo’s writings, particularly those on Jewish law, also address gentiles, see Maren Niehoff, “Philo’s Exposition in a Roman Context,” Studia Philonica Annual 23 (2011): 1–21, at 2; Michael Cover, “Colonial Narratives and Philo’s Roman Accuser in the Hypothetica,” Studia Philonica Annual 22 (2010): 183–207.

22 See Hindy Najman, “A Written Copy of the Law of Nature: An Unthinkable Paradox?” Studia Philonica Annual 15 (2003): 54–63.

23 See Walter T. Wilson, “Pious Soldiers, Gender Deviants, and the Ideology of Actium: Courage and Warfare in Philo’s De fortitudine,” Studia Philonica Annual 17 (2005): 1–32.

24 Philo, On Abraham 4–6.

25 On philanthropia in Philo, see Peder Borgen, “Philanthropia in Philo’s Writings: Some Observations,” in Biblical and Humane: A Festschrift for John F. Priest, ed. Linda Bennett Elder, David L. Barr, and Elizabeth Struthers Malbon (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996), 173–88; Katell Berthelot, Philanthrôpia Judaica: le débat autour de la “misanthropie” des lois juives dans l’Antiquité [Philanthrôpia Judaica: The debate on the “misanthropy” of Jewish laws in antiquity] (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 233–321.

26 Philo refers to philanthropia as a virtue. Philo, On the Virtues, trans. F. H. Colson, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1939), 8:195 (51). (For the specialist reader or those accessing Philo’s works in different translations from those I use here, I include in parentheses the standard reference by book and/or section.) As David Konstan writes, by that time, philanthropia was “a virtue term in Hellenistic literature.” David Konstan, “Philo’s De virtutibus in the Perspective of Classical Greek Philosophy,” Studia Philonica Annual 18 (2006): 59–72, at 66. The Roman ideal of clementia, an ethic of humaneness with which philanthropia shared much in common, was listed among the emperor’s cardinal virtues beginning in 27 BCE; see Melissa Barden Dowling, Clemency and Cruelty in the Roman World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 76–125.

27 Philo, On the Virtues, 8:195 (51).

28 Gregory Sterling, “‘The Queen of the Virtues’: Piety in Philo of Alexandria,” Studia Philonica Annual 18 (2006): 103–23, at 110.

29 Philo, On the Virtues, 8:235 (119).

30 Philo, On the Virtues, 8:235 (120).

31 Philo, On the Life of Moses, trans. F. H. Colson, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1935), 6:463 (2.27).

32 Philo, On the Life of Moses, 6:471 (2.44).

33 Philo, On the Virtues, 8:235 (119).

34 On the concept of emotional practice, see Mermelstein, Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism, 221–57.

35 See Lawrence H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 65–157.

36 My translations are based on that of Sarianna Metso, The Community Rule: A Critical Edition with Translation (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2019). References to 1QS are provided in parentheticals.

37 My use of the masculine pronoun throughout this article reflects the scholarly view that the community associated with 1QS was a group of celibate men. For a survey of the issue and discussion of the possibility that the sect also included women, see Ilan, Tal, “Women in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lim, Timothy H. and Collins, John J. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 123–47, at 123–26Google Scholar.

38 The language of the blessing itself recycles a number of words from the first ten lines of column 1. See Mermelstein, Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism, 235n45.

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Between Belonging and Identity in Ancient Judaism: The Role of Emotion in the Production of Identity - Reviewed: Kinship, Law and Politics: An Anatomy of Belonging. By Joseph E. David. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 156. $110.00 (cloth); $88.00 (digital). ISBN: 9781108499682.
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Between Belonging and Identity in Ancient Judaism: The Role of Emotion in the Production of Identity - Reviewed: Kinship, Law and Politics: An Anatomy of Belonging. By Joseph E. David. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 156. $110.00 (cloth); $88.00 (digital). ISBN: 9781108499682.
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Between Belonging and Identity in Ancient Judaism: The Role of Emotion in the Production of Identity - Reviewed: Kinship, Law and Politics: An Anatomy of Belonging. By Joseph E. David. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 156. $110.00 (cloth); $88.00 (digital). ISBN: 9781108499682.
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