Zealotry, I am arguing, is a paradigmatic religious lethal violence. Brutal zealots play a significant role in Jewish canonic history and exegetical heritage.
Written By Prof. Gideon Aran
The methodic examination of this rich reservoir of authentic materials offers an opportunity to advance our understanding of religious violence, its dynamics and implications. The present article illustrates the scientific potential of the sociological study of sacred texts. At the background of this and related research is the exposure and rereading of the Jewish religious legacy of violence – often dormant, at other times dominant – alongside a legacy oriented towards peace, moderation and accommodation.
The above two maintain intense dialectical relationship.
While my broader project is to trace the normative, moral and political aspects of zealotry, in this particular paper I am focusing on its cultic aspect, relating it to the issue of collective and bodily boundary management. Furthermore, I draw attention to the homology of the ideal-types of zealotry and priesthood conventionally considered polar opposites in many respects. I usually employ the elaborate corpus of our accumulated knowledge on priesthood as a means to help me solve the riddle of zealotry.
In this article I exploit some insights concerning zealotry to shed light on yet unidentified dimensions of priesthood. Among others, I suggest that priests might be seen as zealots in a golden cage. A positive feedback from Jewish Studies scholars encouraged me to carry-on my Jewish Sociology project.
Anyone who has viewed footage of a suicide attack in Israel will have seen bizarre bearded men busily working at the center of the gruesome site. At a certain moment they turn their fluorescent safety vests inside out. Previously the orange side, emblazoned “medic” was on display. The reversed side is yellow and bears the word “Zaka”, a Hebrew acronym that stands for Identifying Disaster Victims.
Notes by Prof. Gideon Aran
Zaka is an organization of Jewish Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) volunteers that has gained a monopoly on managing the deaths of victims of terrorism in Israel. It operates a network of a few hundred well-trainee and well-equipped personnel throughout the country. These men can arrive at any terrorism site rapidly, offer first aid, and then turn to their central task—carrying for the bodies of the dead in strict obedience to Jewish religious (halakhic) ritual norms and in keeping with traditional Jewish respect for the dead. Continue reading
On Religiosity and Super Religiosity essay submits a thesis on radical religion, discusses the measures of religion and proposes the concept of Super-Religiosity. It will be followed by a second essay (in an upcoming issue of Numen, 4, 2013) that presents a contemporary “case” to which the analytic model of Super-Religiosity is applied.
Prof. Gideon Aran
Written By Prof. Gideon Aran
Though the two essays systematically relate to each other and are complementary, they can be read independently of one another.
The theoretical core of the essay addresses the issue of the measurability of religiosity. It supports the recent claim that religion in general and religious extremism in particular, is not so much a matter of belief or experience but rather it is essentially a matter of performance of the self and the group. It then argues that advancing our understanding of religious extremism requires turning the spotlight from a performance oriented towards religion’s environment to religious inward-facing performance. Continue reading