Disease and the Christian Discourse of Jewish Death in "De Excidio Hierosolymitano" 5, 2


The late-fourth century work called On the Destruction of Jerusalem (De Excidio Hierosolymitano), or “Pseudo-Hegesippus”, records the history of the Roman-Jewish War (66-73 CE) and particularly the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. As a Christian version of this history based largely upon Flavius Josephus’ earlier Jewish War, De Excidio understands himself to be telling the story of the effective death of the Jews in history. One major aspect of this narrative, I argue, is a discourse of Jewish disease, wherein Ps-Hegesippus portrays the Jews as “sick” with the plague of civil insurrection and sedition. But this discourse goes much further as well, cutting to the very core of De Excidio’s narrative logic. Here I argue that this discourse of Jewish disease finds its most powerful expression in one particular chapter of the work, Book 5, Chapter 2. I show that De Excidio 5.2 epitomizes the work’s rhetoric of Jewish contagion, which can nevertheless be traced throughout the entirety of the work.


Christian-Jewish Relations; Pseudo-Hegesippus; Latin; Metaphor Theory; Disease; Contagion; Sickness; Jews; Historiography; De Excidio Hierosolymitano

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Published : 2021-06-15

Bay, C. (2021). Disease and the Christian Discourse of Jewish Death in "De Excidio Hierosolymitano" 5, 2. Vox Patrum, 78, 157-182. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.12268

Carson Bay  carson.bay@theol.unibe.ch
University of Bern  Switzerland