Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Defining Identity Through Power and Conflict


Honors College


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



Reading the biblical narrative of Esther--a narrative giving way to the ritualized Feast of Purim--against more recent testimonies and accounts of anti-Semitism demonstrates common patterns in social, political, and religious responses to conflict. When studied carefully, these patterns support a common model capable of cross-cultural application. This model supports the fundamental thesis that anti-Semitism is not simply a belief but a conflict over identity that produces beliefs and behavioral patterns consistent with deep-rooted prejudices. More specifically, this conflict is typically an absolute conflict disguised as an institutional conflict --terms that will be defined--and is usually triggered by perceived interruptions to power systems. Using the Hebrew Bible as its starting point, this paper argues that studies of anti-Semitism are best performed when they include detailed understandings of both the identity of the perpetrator and the identity of the victim.

Conference Name

Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature

Conference Location

San Francisco, California

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