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Execution and InventionDeath Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures$
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Beth A. Berkowitz

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179194

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195179196.001.0001

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Ritualization and Redemption

Ritualization and Redemption

Mishnah Sandhedrin Chapter Six

(p.65) 3 Ritualization and Redemption
Execution and Invention

Beth A. Berkowitz (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the laws of rabbinic criminal execution as a ritual narrative and interprets that ritual, paying close attention to the way it constructs space and speech. It shows that the geography of the ritual dramatizes the connection between the rabbinic judges and the power of execution, while ensuring that the two entities remain distinct. It argues that the Mishnah’s ritual of execution makes claims that go well beyond the condemned criminal — the ritual claims for the Rabbis the power to redeem all Jews from sin and to establish for every individual a place in the world to come. It draws upon parallel rituals of execution: medieval, modern, and contemporary.

Keywords:   ritual narrative, space, speech, geography, power of execution, redemption, sin, world to come, rituals of execution, Mishnah

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