War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East: Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History

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Walter de Gruyter, 2009 - History - 245 pages
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The monograph considers the relationships of ethical systems in the ancient Near East through a study of warfare in Judah, Israel and Assyria in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE. It argues that a common cosmological and ideological outlook generated similarities in ethical thinking.
In all three societies, the mythological traditions surrounding creation reflect a strong connection between war, kingship and the establishment of order. Human kings' military activities are legitimated through their identification with this cosmic struggle against chaos, begun by the divine king at creation. Military violence is thereby cast not only as morally tolerable but as morally imperative.
Deviations from this point of view reflect two phenomena: the preservation of variable social perspectives and the impact of historical changes on ethical thinking.
The research begins the discussion of ancient Near Eastern ethics outside of Israel and Judah and fills a scholarly void by placing Israelite and Judahite ethics within this context, as well as contributing methodologically to future research in historical and comparative ethics.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Ideology and the confrontation of cultures
15
Assyrian cosmology
21
Judahite and Israelite cosmology
29
Ethics of the Assyrian élite
35
Ethics of the Judahite and Israelite élite
65
Ethics of the nonélite
97
Developments in Assyrian ethics
119
Developments in Judahite and Israelite ethics I
156
Developments in Judahite and Israelite ethics II
174
Conclusions
191
Abbreviations
197
Bibliography
203
Index of ancient sources
233
Index of modern authors
243
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About the author (2009)

Carly L. Crouch, University of Cambridge.

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