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Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts$
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T. M. Lemos

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198784531.001.0001

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Of Dogs and Men

Of Dogs and Men

Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and in Contemporary Contexts

(p.171) 6 Of Dogs and Men
Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts

T. M. Lemos

Oxford University Press

This chapter summarizes the evidence from the previous chapters, making clear that the conception of personhood most widespread in ancient Israel was one closely tied to dominance. Only the personhood of a socially dominant man was a complete personhood, and dominance was constructed in such a manner that dominant men were entitled to abrogate the personhood of subordinates through physical violence. This point leads to a comparison of the relationship between violence and personhood in ancient Israel and in certain contemporary American contexts. Examining the treatment of the bodies of military prisoners, those incarcerated in American prisons, or African-American men shot by police, one sees important similarities between Israelite violence and the violence seen in these contemporary contexts. These similarities arise because these contexts promote a specific type of personhood, one centered on a totalizing masculine domination that allows the extreme subjugation of others and the erasure of their personhood.

Keywords:   torture, police brutality, police shootings, prison violence, Abu Ghraib, violence, personhood, racism

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