Evil, sin, and inclination ("yeṣer") in Jewish and Christian poetic disputes between the body and soul

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines a group of liturgical poems in Hebrew, Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, and Syriac that focus on the issues of evil, sin, and yeṣer. The poems portray a dispute between the body and the soul, each of whom tries to convict the other of responsibility for the person’s sins. Each side in the dispute addresses its opponent, and at times also God, and brings proofs and arguments that exemplify its own innocence and the other’s guilt. The poems, Jewish and Christian alike, share the same verdict: both body and soul are responsible for sins, and both should be punished. These poetic disputes are one more example of the rich interaction between Jewish and Christian liturgical poetry in the late antique Near East, and their roots go back to ancient Mesopotamian literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Evil Inclination in Early Judaism and Christianity
EditorsHector M. Patmore, James K. Aitken, Ishay Rosen-Zvi
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781108470827
StatePublished - 2021

RAMBI publications

  • Body and soul in literature
  • Christian literature, Early -- Syriac authors -- History and criticism
  • Religious poetry -- History and criticism
  • Sin -- Christianity -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600
  • Sin -- Judaism -- In literature
  • Yetzer hara (Judaism)


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