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War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East

Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History

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.

Author Information

Carly L. Crouch, University of Cambridge.

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