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Abstract

The willingness for Jews to martyr themselves rather than consume pork was well known in the ancient Mediterranean. Both Jewish and non-Jewish texts attest to this predilection, some viewing it as an inspired testimony to one’s faith and others as a baffling and peculiar act. In Late Antiquity, new depictions of pork-related Jewish martyrdom disappear (though the occasional reference to centuries-old actions do appear). This paper offers an explanation for the disappearance of accounts of pork-related Jewish martyrdom. In doing so, it advances an argument for the rhetorical role played by pork-related Jewish martyrdom. Once we understand the role that these accounts play in the discourse of religious competition in the ancient Mediterranean, we can understand why they disappear once they no longer are needed to serve that function.

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