Constructing Fear and Pride in the Book of Daniel: The Profile of a Second Temple Emotional Community*

  • Ari Mermelstein
  • Journal for the Study of Judaism, November 2015, Brill
  • DOI: 10.1163/15700631-12340109

Fear and Pride in Daniel

What is it about?

This paper examines the seminal role that emotions, particularly fear and pride, play in the book of Daniel. Drawing upon the idea of “emotional communities,” I view the book’s final redactor as engaged with the views of one such community during the period of the Antiochan persecutions. The redactor’s emotional community responded to the persecutions with fear, an emotion that he simultaneously validated and challenged. The emotions of pride and fear both reflect beliefs about one’s power relative to others. The prideful kings portrayed in the book and the redactor’s fearful emotional community shared what the redactor claimed were unwarranted beliefs about the relative power of each group. In order to jettison the fear of his community, the redactor first had to address the beliefs that supported that emotion. The book constitutes a sustained effort to construct an alternative emotional norm for members of the redactor’s community by providing them with a new way of evaluating their situation: even if redemption has been delayed, faithful Jews who resist Antiochus to the point of martyrdom are in fact the powerful ones.

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