By Ishay Rosen-Zvi
In Demonic wishes, Ishay Rosen-Zvi examines the idea that of yetzer hara, or evil inclination, and its evolution in biblical and rabbinic literature. opposite to current scholarship, which reads the time period below the rubric of harmful sexual wish, Rosen-Zvi contends that during past due antiquity the yetzer represents a basic tendency towards evil. instead of the reduce physically a part of a human, the rabbinic yetzer is a depraved, refined inciter, trying to snare people to sin. The rabbinic yetzer may still consequently now not be learn within the culture of the Hellenistic quest for keep an eye on over the reduce components of the psyche, writes Rosen-Zvi, yet quite within the culture of historical Jewish and Christian demonology.Rosen-Zvi conducts a scientific and finished research of the a few 100 and fifty appearances of the evil yetzer in classical rabbinic literature to discover the biblical and postbiblical look for the assets of human sinfulness. via studying the yetzer inside of a particular demonological culture, Demonic wishes locations the yetzer discourse within the better context of a flow towards psychologization in past due antiquity, within which evil—and even demons—became internalized in the human psyche. The ebook discusses a number of manifestations of this stream in patristic and monastic fabric, from Clement and starting place to Antony, Athanasius, and Evagrius. It concludes with a attention of the wider implications of the yetzer discourse in rabbinic anthropology.
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Additional info for Demonic Desires: Yetzer Hara and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity
44 Far from being a simple passion or appetite, the yetzer is a deceiver who initiates the ride down the slippery slope from the neglect of study to idolatry, and from there, as we shall see below, to death. Several homilies consequently present the yetzer as a danger that requires "protection" a term used in apotropaic contexts, usually applied to demons and other cosmic forces. "48 One of the most vivid accounts of this dynamic appears in Augustine's famous story of the pears' theft: My desire was to enjoy not what I sought by stealing but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong....
Nez. 4:7 [ed. Lieberman, 138-39]) Tannaitic Literature 33 This story gained much scholarly attention. 86 Here I shall only concentrate on the function of the yetzer in the narrative. In the parallel version. (Sifre Numbers 22, ed. Horowitz, 26), "heart" is used instead of ''yetzer,'' and some scholars believe that this is the older, more original version,87 which Tosefta supplanted with a more current term. The context of the story, however, points to the opposite direction. The "heart" in this narrative in (R.
On the other hand, yetzel' still betrays its biblical roots in many Qumranic texts, and more often than not its meaning is quite fluid. Similar doubts exist regarding other quasi-demonic terms in Qumran as well. 27 But even if yetzel' is not a completely defined term at Qumran, it plays there a rather fixed role and appears in limited contexts. A closer look at these contexts may yield more unequivocal answers than those regarding the unsolved issues of reification. '' The Role ofYetzer at Qumran: Demonology and the Sources of Sin At first, it seemed possible to distinguish between two distinct contexts ofyetzel' at Qumran: an element of every person's anthropology on the one hand, and a component of a dualistic cosmology on the other.