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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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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 05 December 2021

Status in the Hereafter

Status in the Hereafter

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

Susan Weissman

Liverpool University Press

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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