"How Great Is Peace": Tannaitic Thinking on Shalom and the Pax Romana

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Tannaitic compositions include midrashim that focus on shalom (peace) and its significance. Since the word shalom appears in numerous contexts in the Tanak, the sages were able to develop various ideas, depending on their preferences, from an array of biblical verses. Despite having been composed under Roman rule, these shalom midrashim make no mention of Rome. Thus, scholars who have studied these sources have given scant attention to this broader framework. However, peace played a crucial role in Roman imperial ideology, where Rome is presented bringing peace to the empire. In this article, I analyze these midrashim and other Tannaitic passages and examine their relationship with Roman notions of peace. I show that this material conveys a latent dialogue with the ideology related to pax Romana and how the Roman conceptualization of peace appears to have influenced rabbinic approaches to shalom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-251
Number of pages29
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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Copyright © 2018 by Koninklijke Brill NV.


  • Priestly Benediction
  • minim
  • pax Romana
  • pax concordia
  • pax deorum
  • peace
  • shalom


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