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Emotion, Gender, and Greco-Roman Virtue in Joseph and Aseneth

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Anger, courage, and philanthropia—three important elements of Greco-Roman civic life—figure prominently in the book of Joseph and Aseneth and help us uncover the book’s message. One view within Greco-Roman culture valorized manly anger—at least where appropriate—and manly courage, but, according to Joseph and Aseneth, Jews instead privileged the emotion of pity and the related virtue of philanthropia. The author strategically developed his plot around the experiences of a female convert, whose views on anger, courage, and philanthropia highlight both the distinctiveness and subversiveness of the Jewish position. His message served an important polemical goal, one which highlighted the premium that Jews place on philanthropia and challenged contemporary accusations of Jewish misanthropy.

Affiliations: 1: Yeshiva University New York, NYUSA

1 I wish to thank Chaviva Levin and Gillian Steinberg for their feedback on earlier drafts. All remaining errors are my own.

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