„For ye know the heart of the stranger“ : Empathy, Memory, and the Biblical Idea of a „Decent Society“

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ASSMANN, Aleida, ed., Ines DETMERS, ed.. Empathy and its Limits. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp. 187-201. ISBN 978-1-137-55236-5. Available under: doi: 10.1057/9781137552372_11
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The biblical story of the Exodus tells the miraculous escape of the Israelites from thraldom in Egypt. In doing so it has once and for all denigrated the image of Ancient Egypt in the memory of humanity as the epitome of despotism, slavery and cruel oppression. This image, we must add, has no traces in historical reality, but fulfils first and foremost an important narrative function. The story follows the typical pattern in which ‘a lack’ is transformed into the liquidation of this lack,1 leading from a bad state of extreme oppression, godforsakeness, and humiliation to the highest possible status and divine presence. In order to present the finally achieved status — the Israelites as a Chosen People in the covenant with God — in the brilliant light of freedom, justice, and dignity, it must be shown against the backdrop of a situation that paints the plight and the helplessness of the Israelites in glaring colours. The core of the story, however, is not about the relationship between Israelites and Egyptians, but about the inner transformation of the chosen people on its path from serfdom to freedom. The Egyptians have had to live with this unfavourable biblical portrait of their Pharaonic past, which was even politically instrumentalized in the Arab Spring in 2012, when Mubarak was stigmatized as ‘fira’ûn’ (Pharaoh) on posters and graffiti. With Ridley Scott’s new film Exodus, the Egyptian response has moved into a new direction.

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ISO 690ASSMANN, Jan, 2016. „For ye know the heart of the stranger“ : Empathy, Memory, and the Biblical Idea of a „Decent Society“. In: ASSMANN, Aleida, ed., Ines DETMERS, ed.. Empathy and its Limits. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp. 187-201. ISBN 978-1-137-55236-5. Available under: doi: 10.1057/9781137552372_11
BibTex
@incollection{Assmann2016heart-35898,
  year={2016},
  doi={10.1057/9781137552372_11},
  title={„For ye know the heart of the stranger“ : Empathy, Memory, and the Biblical Idea of a „Decent Society“},
  isbn={978-1-137-55236-5},
  publisher={Palgrave Macmillan},
  address={Houndsmills},
  booktitle={Empathy and its Limits},
  pages={187--201},
  editor={Assmann, Aleida and Detmers, Ines},
  author={Assmann, Jan}
}
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