Mar. 18, 2011
Jacob L. Wright, assistant professor of Hebrew Bible at Candler, recently delivered the prestigious 2010-2011 Annual Lecture in Biblical Studies at the Collège de France and was awarded the elite institution’s Médaille du Collège, a medal of honor.
In “Making a Name for Oneself: Procreation, Martial Prowess and Heroic Death,” Wright outlined historical attempts to create lasting legacies, from military conquests to monument building, and how the authors of the Hebrew Bible reconceive these name-making strategies in their attempt to create a people that can survive in absence of statehood.
“The desire for a great and enduring name could induce individuals to seek opportunities not only to demonstrate martial prowess but also to sacrifice their lives on the battlefield,” he said, noting that the Greco-Roman and ancient Near Eastern sources attest richly to such heroic death.
Yet the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic sources do not glorify heroic death. “The biblical authors and rabbis undertook their work at a time when military triumph was no longer achievable and the willingness to die in wars against the empire—whether it be Babylon or Rome—promised to bring only more pain and suffering. They therefore set forth procreation (and with it, education) rather than martial valor and heroic death as the most basic means of making a name,” Wright said.
Wright delivered the lecture at the invitation of Thomas Römer, professor and chair of "Milieux Bibliques." He has been invited back to the Collège de France in April to speak on “The Relationship of Prophets to Kings and Arcana Imperii.”