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Final Judgement and the Dead in Medieval Jewish Thought$
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Susan Weissman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764975

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764975.001.0001

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Status in the Hereafter

Status in the Hereafter

Chapter:
(p.151) Chapter Five Status in the Hereafter
Source:
Final Judgement and the Dead in Medieval Jewish Thought
Author(s):

Susan Weissman

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906764975.003.0006

This chapter analyses R. Judah the Pious's selection of ghost tales that pertain to the individual's status in the afterlife. It contrasts elements of his tales with rabbinic notions of the afterlife and compares them with those found in tales that circulated in the Germano-Christian environment. In both language and content, the Pietist tales of Sefer ḥasidim that describe the state of the individual in the hereafter contain elements that parallel those found in the early medieval visionary literature, as well as in the high medieval exempla collections. Popular motifs, such as vivid descriptions of corporeal torture by demonic agents, figure prominently in both Sefer ḥasidim and contemporary literary sources and artistic representations. Other shared characteristics include the principle of talio and the disproportion between sin and punishment. The problem of corporeality — already apparent in the areas of the dangerous dead and the attire of the dead — surfaces yet again both in Sefer ḥasidim and in the Christian exempla collections.

Keywords:   Judah the Pious, ghost tales, afterlife, Germano-Christian environment, Sefer ḥasidim, medieval visionary literature, medieval exempla collections, corporeal torture, talio, corporeality

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