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The parable of the disappearing gladiators: interpreting a late antique cultural reference in Genesis Rabba’s exposition of the Cain and Abel narrative

Abstract:

According to the mashal (parable) attributed to Shimʿon ben Yoḥai in Gen. Rab. 22:9, the murder of Abel (Gen 4:8–10) may be likened to a gladiator’s death in the arena. This article argues that the parable assumes the audience’s familiarity with gladiatorial shows, which came to an end in the early fifth century CE. Tracing the transmission of the mashal in Tanḥuma ha-Nidpas (Bereshit 9) and the earliest commentaries on Genesis Rabba, it further argues that the gladiatorial allusion was not u...

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Publication status:
Published
Peer review status:
Peer reviewed

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Publisher copy:
10.1163/15700631-bja10048

Authors


More by this author
Institution:
University of Oxford
Division:
HUMS
Role:
Author
Publisher:
Brill Academic Publishers
Journal:
Journal for the Study of Judaism More from this journal
Volume:
54
Issue:
1
Pages:
87-128
Publication date:
2022-02-17
Acceptance date:
2022-01-01
DOI:
EISSN:
1570-0631
ISSN:
0047-2212
Language:
English
Keywords:
Pubs id:
1233277
Local pid:
pubs:1233277
Deposit date:
2022-01-25

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