The Facets of Fear: Fear of God in Exilic and Post-Exilic Contexts

Verantwortlich für das Dissertationsprojekt: Dr. des. Phillip Lasater (Dissertation 2016)
Finanzierung: UFSP Asien und Europa
Projektdauer: Oktober 2011 – September 2014
Promotionskommission: Prof. Dr. Konrad Schmid, Theologisches Seminar/UFSP Asien und Europa
Forschungsfeld: Begriffe und Taxonomien

Abstract

This project examines the notions of “fear” (yrʾh) and “fear of God(s)” (yrʾt ʾlhym) in ancient Judaism, each of which modern scholarship has tended to interpret as related to “religion” or “religious experience.” The study begins with a philological overview of yrʾ-derivatives, critiquing previous arguments about the semantics and taxonomic placement of this terminology. Following these conclusions, various conceptions of yrʾh are examined for their role in the anthropologies or moral psychologies discernible in literature from the Second Temple Period. The remainder of the study focuses on texts of diverse kinds (i.e., legal; prophetic; sapiential) and engages in chronologically ordered, close readings to highlight the ways in which Jewish scribes used and understood this fear terminology between the Neo-Babylonian and Hellenistic periods. The project will increase the academic understanding of ancient Judaism and the widespread yet overlooked motif of yrʾt ʾlhym, underscoring its multiple manifestations as well as identifying some common threads among its many usages.