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Ritual Violence in the Hebrew BibleNew Perspectives$
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Saul M. Olyan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190249588

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190249588.001.0001

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Establishing Communitas

Establishing Communitas

Royal Rites of Military Loyalty and Their Socio-Religious Function

(p.137) 7 Establishing Communitas
Ritual Violence in the Hebrew Bible

Rüdiger Schmitt

Oxford University Press

Biblical texts such as 2 Sam 18:1–5, 2 Sam 19:6–9, and 1 Kgs 22:10–12 indicate that ritual actions whose aim is to establish or re-create communitas among the king, the army, and the population in situations of political crisis were performed in the city gate, which was the usual place for public performances, being a liminal place par excellence. These rituals could involve the performance of physical violence (2 Kgs 9:30–37, the killing of Jezebel) or ritualized violence in the form of imitative magic (1 Kgs 22:10–12, execration ritual performed by a prophet) and were sometimes undertaken to avoid inner-societal violence, as in 2 Sam 18:1–5; 19:6–9, where the legitimacy of kingship had become precarious. The investigation of textual, archeological, and iconographic evidence leads to the conclusion that the locus of these ritual performances must be the area before the gate.

Keywords:   delegation of authority, city gate, communitas, execration ritual, liminal space, Megiddo ivories, social drama, war ritual, White Obelisk, Victor W. Turner

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