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Sculpture, Space and the Poetics of Idolatry in Josephus' Bellum Judaicum

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Josephus' writings depict a rather tumultuous relationship between Jews and figurative art, especially sculpture. When taken at face value, this material seems to indicate that Jews during the Second Temple period interpreted the second commandment as a prohibition against any form of figural representation, regardless of context or function. Using his Bellum Judaicum as a test case, I aim to complicate this picture by shifting attention away from the referential value of these so-called iconoclastic narratives to their rhetorical function, i.e. to the way in which these narratives are uniquely shaped to contribute to larger rhetorical themes in Bellum.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Near Eastern Studies, The University of Michigan, 4111 Thayer Building, 202 South Thayer Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA


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