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Joseph Scales

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Joseph Scales is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by Horizon Europe (August 2023 to August 2025).

His research project is entitled "'Fighting Talk – Motivating Violence in Ancient Judaism" [FTMVAJ]. The project description is the following:

People resort to violence for all kinds of reasons. In the interests of peace, it is essential to understand how people may be incited toward organised violence. For example, in warfare, combatants are often incited towards their actions by others. In the ancient world, such incitement often took the form of a pre-battle speech. Greek, Roman and Jewish literature contains many examples of such speeches. Recent research  suggests that the specifics of how such speeches are constructed are a mediation between accepted forms of style within an author’s experience of other literary works (e.g., Thucydides), and the experience they may have had either as a combatant or commander who gave such a speech themselves. Yet ancient Jewish battle speeches, often found in texts which make up the Bible, are not currently understood either as reflective of motivations towards violence, or counterparts to Greek and Roman examples. Therefore, FTMVAJ will examine examples of pre-battle speeches recorded in ancient Jewish literature, to determine how such speeches reflect motivations towards violence within Judaism, how such speeches draw from and respond to other literary templates, and to further explore the relationship between literary representations of pre-battle exhortations and their oral counterparts.

The principal goal of FTMVAJ is to gather and analyse a comprehensive group of ancient Jewish pre-battle exhortations, using appropriate methodological considerations including linguistic analysis, the identity of the speaker and audience both within the narrative and as a literary work, and intertextuality. Additionally, I will create a suitable framework for understanding these collected speeches and explicate common features. These features will be further compared with Greek and Roman counterparts to examine the relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish examples of ancient pre-battle speech.

Joe is further interested in aspect of ancient Jewish history, culture and texts. He is has recently completed a book based on his PhD research, forthcoming with Brill. His work can be found on both Humanities Commons and Academia[dot]edu.He also hosts the podcast Gods & Moviemakers with Dr Katie Turner.

Research interests

Ancient Judaism

Biblical and extra-biblical texts

Archaeology of the southern Levant


Selected publications


Scales, Joseph. Galilean Spaces of Identity: Judaism and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 214. Brill, 2024.

Edited Volumes

“Categories and Boundaries in Second Temple Jewish Literature.” Edited by Joseph Scales and Charlie Comerford. Advances in Ancient, Biblical, and Near Eastern Research 2.2 (2022).

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Scales, Joseph. “Susanna and Callirhoe: Female Bodies, Law, and Novels.” Lectio Difficilior (2022): 1–26.
Scales, Joseph. “Who is “Worthy of Honour”? Women as Elders in Late Second Temple Period Literature.” Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies 4.2 (2022): 113–129.
Scales, Joseph. “Bathing Jewish, Bathing Greek: Developing an Approach to De-Categorising Hellenism and Judaism.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 154.3 (2022): 171–184.
Quine, Cat and Joseph Scales. “Josephus’ Adaptation of the Athaliah Narratives.” Vetus Testamentum 72.1 (2022): 93–108.
Scales, Joseph and Ellena Lyell. “Uncovering the Dead, Dethroning the King: Divine Embodiment in 1 Samuel 28:14.” Hebrew Studies 62 (2021): 97–115.
Scales, Joseph. “Preparing for Military Action: Judith’s Purificatory Washing in Judith 12:7.” Vetus Testamentum 71.4–5 (2021): 687–703. 
Scales, Joseph and Cat Quine. “Athaliah and Alexandra: Gender and Queenship in Josephus.” Journal of Ancient Judaism 11.2 (2020): 233–250.
Scales, Joseph. “The Linguistic Connection between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ in the Greek Translations of the Book of Daniel.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 131.1 (2019): 105–112.

Chapters and Other Articles

Scales, Joseph and Laura Quick. “The Emergence of Submergence: Evidence and Frameworks for Women’s Bathing Rituals in Ancient Judaism.” In Bloomsbury Handbook on Gender, Sexuality, and Religion in the Ancient Near East. Edited by Shawna Dolansky and Sarah Shectman. Bloomsbury, 1–19 [Forthcoming].

Scales, Joseph. “Apocryphon of Ezekiel.” In T&T Clark Handbook to Hellenistic Jewish Literature in Greek. Edited by Marieke Dhont and Sean Adams. T&T Clark, 1–11 [Forthcoming].

Scales, Joseph. “The Limits of Evidence: The Miqveh as an Indicator of Jewish Purity Practices in Second Temple Period Galilee.” In Purity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity: Proceedings of the Tenth Schwerte Qumran Conference, 10th-12th February 2019. Edited by Laura von Bartenwerffer, Lutz Doering, and Jörg Frey. Mohr Siebeck, 1–23 [Forthcoming].

Comerford, Charlie and Joseph Scales. “Categories and Boundaries Special Issue Introduction.” In Advances in Ancient, Biblical, and Near Eastern Research 2.2 (2022), 1–9.

General outreach

Last changed: 2.11.2023 15:11