‘Shaming an Opponent in Debate: The Polemical Use of Emotions in Some Anti-Jewish Dialogues’

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Ancient debates were events in which not only rational arguments were exchanged but in which emotions were expected to and did run high. While this may seem obvious, despite a growing body of literature on dialogue and debate in late antiquity, there has been very little attention paid to the role various emotions play in these events. As well as providing arguments and set-texts for the defining and promotion of a religious view, both real debates and their literary representation were meant to persuade their audiences. Participants/protagonists (and the authors of these texts) used a wide range of rhetorical techniques to win the argument and these involved among other things an active use of and appeal to emotions. It is therefore important, especially in the absence of scholarly interest on this topic, to show why emotions matter in the study of polemics and why they must no longer go unnoticed. Anti-Jewish dialogues offer the opportunity to explore the use of emotions and their impact on strategies of persuasion. From the rich emotional repertoire in evidence, shame stands out.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJewish-Christian Disputations in Antiquity and the Middle Ages Timothy and Aquila, Petrus Alfonsi and Jewish Polemics against Christianity
EditorsSebastien Morlet
Place of PublicationLeuven
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789042938571
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Anti-Jewish Polemic
  • Emotions
  • Persuasion
  • Late Antiquity
  • religious polemic


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