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The Origins of the Origins of Evil:

Contesting Interpretations of the ‘Evil Inclination’ (yētser hara) within Judaism and its Impact on Early Christian Thought

2-4 September 2014
Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge

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Organisers - Dr James Aitken (Cambridge), Dr Hector M. Patmore (Cardiff), and Dr Ishay Rosen-Zvi (Tel Aviv)


In rabbinic thought the existence of sin in the world is explained by the existence of an Evil Inclination (yetser hara in Hebrew), an instinctive tendency innate in every individual that prompts the individual to act in a manner contrary to the will of God. Nobody is sinful by nature, but all are led to sin by the Evil Inclination. This conference aims to identify the origins of this concept within Judaism, to establish a clear picture of its development chronologically and geographically, to assess its impact on the development of emerging Christian thought, and to evaluate the influence of the cultures in which Judaism and Christianity were embedded.


Hector Patmore (Cardiff), Ishay Rosen-Zvi (Tel Aviv), James Aitken, (Cambridge), Miryam Brand (Albright Institute, Jerusalem), Robert Hayward, (Durham), Ophir Münz-Manor (OU Israel), Yishai Kiel, (Yale), Leeor Gottlieb (Bar Ilan), Sharon Weisser (Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem), Monika Pesthy (Budapest), Benjamin Wold (Dublin), Noam Mizrahi, Tel Aviv (Hebrew Bible), David Taylor (Oxford), Riemer Roukema (Amsterdam), Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (King's College London), Tim Pettipiece (Carleton), George van Kooten (Groningen).


The finalized programme is available for download.


Bookings are now closed. For enquiries, please contact James Aitken <>.

A summary of the costs and details are here.

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