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Archiv für Religionsgeschichte

Ed. by Bickel, Susanne / Frankfurter, David / Johnston, Sarah Iles / Pironti, Gabriella / Rüpke, Jörg / Scheid, John / Várhelyi, Zsuzsanna

Together with Beard, Mary / Bonnet, Corinne / Borgeaud, Philippe / Henrichs, Albert / Knysh, Alexander / Lissarrague, Francois / Malamoud, Charles / Maul, Stefan / Parker, Robert C. Y. / Shaked, Shaul / Stroumsa, Gedaliahu Guy / Tardieu, Michel / Volokhine, Youri

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Creating Religious Identity: Rabbinic Interpretations of the Exodus

Günter Stemberger
Published Online: 2018-03-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2018-0004


According to the rabbis, only those belong to Israel who have lived through the central events of biblical history, above all the Exodus and the Babylonian Exile. This is demonstrated on the basis of three texts, the Haggadah of Pesaḥ, the Mekhilta, and the interpretation of the Exodus story in the Babylonian Talmud Sotah. Every Jew is expected to re-enact these events in their own lives: “In every generation man is bound to look upon himself as if he had come forth from Egypt.” Converts may also opt into this history and consider themselves as if they, too, had stood on Mount Sinai. Biblical history remains an active force beyond the limits of time; the consciousness of this ever present history is part of the rabbinic understanding of one’s own present and thus essential for one’s Jewish identity.


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-03-28

Citation Information: Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 45–59, ISSN (Online) 1868-8888, ISSN (Print) 1436-3038, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arege-2018-0004.

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