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Why do we wage war?

Second University Colloquium at the University of Groningen, with Prof. Steve Mason
12 February 2014

Wars are highly destructive, cause immeasurable loss of human life and leave all parties (including the winners) devastated. And yet we continue to fight. Why? How do wars begin? What roles do ideology, fear, aggression, resistance to oppression, and material need play? During the second University Colloquium at the University of Groningen on 3 March , Professor Steve Mason will present an important case study based on the war that erupted between Jews and Romans in AD 66. This war became the most consequential conflict in ancient times and drastically changed the course of world history. It continued to determine relations between Jews and Christians for hundreds of years, right up until the twentieth century.

Professor Steve Mason
Professor Steve Mason

The Jewish-Roman conflict serves as a lasting example of how wars evolve. The conflict is often seen as the inevitable climax of a clash between two civilizations, with academics citing various causes: religious, cultural, ideological, economic or sociopolitical differences. But what really went on? Was this war really inevitable? Should we rethink our ideas about how wars begin and evolve?

A Clash of Civilizations?

In his lecture ‘ Why did First-Century Jews go to war with Rome – A Clash of Civilizations?’, Prof. Steve Mason (University of Aberdeen) argues for a realistic and regional approach, prompting a completely different view of this conflict. In his view, the war had nothing to do with an inevitable conflict between two irreconcilable cultures. He focuses on the nature of existing alliances, the primacy of the local, and the perils of self-help in times of extreme national stress. This classic example also illustrates the ways in which large-scale military invasion by a great power manufactures enemies that did not exist before.

Current conflicts

Three respondents will give their reactions from modern and current perspectives. Prof. Doeko Bosscher (Contemporary History), Prof. Wout van Bekkum (Middle Eastern Studies) and Dr Erin Wilson (Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain) will broach subjects such as Clash of Civilizations, ongoing conflicts in the Middle-East and the influence of religion on political conflicts.

Dirk Smilde Fellowship

Professor Steve Mason (University of Aberdeen) is the first Dirk Smilde Fellow at the Qumran Institute of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen. He is residing there from January until May 2014. The Fellowship was established thanks to a generous financial donation by Mr Dirk Smilde to the Qumran Institute v ia the University’s Ubbo Emmius Fund. It enables top researchers to spend time working at the University of Groningen.

Programme

  • 8 p.m.: Word of welcome from the chair for the evening, Professor Mladen Popović, Director of the Qumran Institute
  • 8.05 p.m.: ‘Why did First-Century Jews go to war with Rome - A Clash of Civilizations?’, Professor Steve Mason
  • 8.30 p.m.: Response by panel members
  • 8.45 p.m.: Discussion with the audience

Date

March 3, 8 p.m. - 9.30 p.m.

Location

Aula of the Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen.

Admission

free

Last modified:04 July 2014 9.39 p.m.
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