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Lecture: Jan Dietrich (Aarhus University)

Title: "Suicide in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East"

Abstract: "Suicide raises questions about the meaning and purpose of human life, and the different ways society deals with it are currently being debated not only in society but in different fields of research as well. However, an extensive study of suicide in ancient Israel and its neighbouring cultures of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia has been missing, and it is the aim of the book presented to close this research gap. In my paper, building upon my book, I do not view suicide from medical or dogmatic-theological perspectives, which regard suicide as an act of mental illness or sinful deed. Instead, it is viewed from a historico-cultural and sociological perspective and focuses on the motives and meanings behind suicidal acts. By examining suicidal act from this angle, they are interpreted as attempts to solve basic problems of life, and the historical material available is categorised into three basic forms: escapist suicides, aggressive suicides, and suicides of passage and sacrifice."