Research Communities Long Descriptions

This table is a listing of Communities, including the Community Name, Description and Edit or Delete links if available.
Name Description Select Delete
“Literary Features” – Fact or Fiction The research group provides a forum for scholars with an interest in “literary features” in the Hebrew Bible and other ancient Near Eastern texts.
Anthropology and the Bible The aim of this unit is to foster ethnographic readings of biblical stories, both Old and New Testaments, and anthropological perspectives on the archaeology, the history and the literature of ancient Palestine in its Near Eastern context. Relevant topics for discussion are: -Political and historical anthropology of ancient Palestine (city-states, urbanization, state-formation processes, ethnogenesis). -Mediterranean anthropology in biblical narrative (patronage, hospitality, feud, honour and shame, food). -Sociology and anthropology of religion and ancient Palestinian cultic and ritual data (aniconism, iconography, burial, cultic places, etc.). -Sociology and anthropology of biblical studies (the production of academic knowledge and its impact on society). -Comparative analysis of Biblical and Eastern Mediterranean literature from an anthropological perspective.
Archaeological Fieldwork in the Bronze and Iron Age Levant This session introduces and discusses recent archaeological investigations in the Levantine region with a focus on the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Persian period. The session aims to familiarize scholars of the Hebrew Bible and cognate studies with recent archaeological research related to their time period, as well as recent technical and methodological advancements in the field of archaeology.
Archaeological Fieldwork in the Hellenistic-Roman Mediterranean This session introduces and discusses recent archaeological investigations in the Mediterranean basin with a focus on the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine worlds. The session aims at familiarizing scholars of New Testament and cognate studies with recent archaeological research related to their time period, as well as recent technical and methodological advancements in the field of archaeology.
Bible Translation Workshop This workshop focuses on issues of Bible translation. Since the Bible has been the most frequently translated book through the ages, the history of its translation and the theoretical and historical background of these endeavors create a fascinating field of research. The workshop proposes an investigation of the field based not only on a historical overview of the epistemological approach to Bible translation, but also an investigation based on interdisciplinary approaches: biblical studies, linguistics, translation studies, literary criticism, social and cultural studies. Our main interest is not only to identify but to address issues that pertain to the field of Bible translation within its historical, social, ideological and cultural context.
Biblical Reception History and Authority in the Middle Ages and Beyond In recent research in biblical studies, reception history has become an increasingly important but controversial topic of discussion. We maintain that new understandings and interpretations of biblical narratives are strongly linked with given cultural and social milieu and often serve practical aims in the given community. This emphasis of the context of interpretation brings along an important question of power and authority. Whose interests the new biblical interpretations serve? How novel expression of traditional texts become authoritative? How is the authority of biblical narratives upheld in changing circumstances?
Bodies of Communication ‘Bodies of Communication’ is a research unit fostering conversations on the body as a location of religious expression. As the study of religion moves away from religious doctrines and institutions towards an increasing interest in the lived experience of religion, the human body takes up a more central place. In Biblical and related texts, issues in which the body is inevitable bound up, such as food and sexuality, birth and death, are never far away. While bodies are often policed in religious settings, they also offers a site for resistance and deviance, and a means of opposing traditional norms. Both the abstract and idealized body and the concrete body that exists and lives in time and space can be understood to express religious narratives and structures. This session aims to increase understanding of the body as a significant site in the period of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, as well as in contemporary interpretations and resonances. It especially encourages engagement with issues that are relevant for contemporary culture and society.
Canonical Approaches to the Bible The research group »Canonical Approaches to the Bible« focusses on the role of the Bible as canon, an aspect long considered by mainstream historical-critical scholarship to be marginal and preliminary to the actual task of exegesis. The canonical approach considers it necessary to explore both the different shapes of the canon (diachronically and synchronically) as well as the relationship between different communities of faith and practice that emerge from the different shapes of canon. The »canonical quality of the Bible« is not a secondary attribute; it is a factor intrinsic to the literature itself. As biblical texts came into existence they were from the outset canonical, i.e. highly relevant for a community. For the recipients of these texts, »canon was and is the primary context for interpretation« (Georg Steins). The concept of canon thus encompasses literary, sociological and theological aspects of the biblical text. Historical questions are also not ignored; quite to the contrary: they play a vital role, as each aspect of canon has a historical dimension. This research group gathers scholars from the fields of Old and New Testament who are interested in the different shapes and aspects of the Bible as canon. From 2016 to 2018 we are going to focus on the special function of the beginnings and endings of biblical books. The title of this ongoing project will be: “In the beginning… .” 2016: The openings of biblical books as a hermeneutical key 2017: The endings of biblical books as a hermeneutical key 2018: The openings and endings of biblical books – topics on the way to a canon conscious Biblical Theology
Centralization and Cult in Persian Period Israel: Biblical, Historical and Comparative Perspectives "The special session aims at renewing the conceptualization and understanding of centralization in ancient Israel, especially during the Persian/Early Hellenistic periods, from a combined perspective including biblical, historical and comparative approaches. It is based on the following issues raised by the current scholarly discussion: (a) The discussion involves various levels of analysis—biblical texts, history, archaeology, comparative evidence—which have not always been adequately distinguished; in addition, the discussion has not given enough attention to the contribution of theoretical approaches of centralization. (b) Since W.L.M. de Wette, centralization has usually been limited to cultic aspects. In light of more recent approaches, it is essential to understand centralization as a more comprehensive process, in which the cultic aspect is only one among several others (i.e., administrative, economic, political, etc.). (c) Up to now, the debate on centralization has largely focused on Deuteronomy and 2 Kgs 22–23, without acknowledging the plurality and diversity of centralization concepts within the Hebrew Bible itself. (d) In former research, centralization was predominantly analyzed from a Judean perspective, without taking into account the textual evidence suggesting a broader Israelite perspective (esp. Deut 12; 27 in MT and SamP). (e) Comparative evidence often serves only as an “analogy-argument”, but has not been fully investigated for reshaping the conceptualization/understanding of centralization. Against this background, the session will bring together experts of various fields in order to discuss biblical, epigraphic and archaeological evidence as well as aspects of material culture related to processes of centralization in the Persian period."
Citizens and Aliens in Greco-Roman Antiquity Citizenship is one of the most debated issues in the present-day Europe, and therefore we wish to open up contextualized discussions on its roots in the Greco-Roman Antiquity. Citizenship and its criteria were redefined many times during the Roman rule in the Mediterranean area. In the conquests and crises, new ideas of defining the good members of Roman society emerged. The Constitutio Antoniniana by Emperor Caracalla in 212 granted citizenship to all free provincials. Philosophers and orators cherished the idea of cosmopolitan citizenship. Recognition of loyal Roman citizens/subjects in terms of religion became more emphatic from the early 3rd century CE onwards and this continued in the course of the Christianization of the Empire.
Comparative Methodology "The Comparative Methodology unit explores methodological questions foundational to comparative analyses, specifically between Jewish and Greco-Roman texts of the Second Temple period. The goal of this research unit is to make explicit what is too often only implicit in scholarly comparative work, the underlying justifications and methods which make a comparison “work”. Participants are encouraged to challenge past assumptions about the how and why of comparisons by drawing upon philosophical and phenomenological resources, and additionally, to consider the perceived benefits of the comparative endeavour. Furthermore, comparisons seek to grant new insights into source materials, but how these results are measured in terms of quality has yet to be determined. The Comparative Methodology unit seeks to address these shortcomings by encouraging scholars to think deeply about the means and outcomes of their comparative work, in order to generate new heuristic tools through which comparisons might be more explicity defined and beneficially utilized."
Concepts of Leadership in the Hebrew Bible The research group focuses on the different conceptions of leadership in the Hebrew Bible. By analyzing the diverse and sometimes even contradictory concepts of leadership in the Old Testament it aims at reconstructing the history of religious and/or political “authorities” in Israel and Early Judaism. Various functions and aspects of human leadership like “judge”, “priest”, “prophet” and “king” will be examined in a literary, (religious and tradition) historical and theological perspective with special emphasis on conceptual changes, developments and shifts. In methodo- logical respect, the unit appreciates multiple approaches (e. g. from literary studies, sociology, cultural studies) and seeks to combine synchronic and diachronic perspectives. It will be asked, which aspects and functions are portrayed positively or negatively and how the relation between human and divine leadership is described and evaluated. Moreover, the respective literary and theological contexts of the different human leadership concepts and their relation to Ancient Near Eastern traditions will be analyzed. A further important aspect concerns changes or discrepancies within the biblical illustration of leadership: Can the alternation or transformation of leadership concepts be linked to the phenomenon “innerbiblical exegesis/ interpretation”? How can discrepancies between the texts be explained? Do changes in the attitude towards certain aspects and functions of human leadership follow a linear development throughout the biblical history? Are there any hints at the “Trägerkreise” behind the texts? By addressing these questions the research group seeks to contribute not only to biblical theology, but also to the relation between the history of Israel/Early Judaism and the literary history of the Hebrew Bible.
Construction of Identity in the Ancient World: Intersections and Reflections Questions of identity and identity formation have begun to make inroads into the study of the ancient world in recent years. Especially questions of gender and ethnic identity have been in the focus of scholarly attention. With more and more material available and more differentiation in the methodological tools, the study of ancient identities is diversifying and requires an interdisciplinary approach. This research group aims at bringing together scholars working on the ancient Near East and those who specialize in Greek and Roman Antiquity, as well as other ancient cultures.
Deconstructive Poetics In the 1980s there was an efflorescence of books on the poetics of the Hebrew Bible, such as Adele Berlin Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative; Robert Alter’s two books on the art of biblical narrative and poetry; and Meir Sternberg The Poetics of Biblical Narrative. Since then, however, there has been rather little. More recent work on poetics, moreover, has tended to be formalistic, to separate structure and style from questions of meaning and interpretation. The Deconstructive Poetics research group has two objectives: i) to investigate how the biblical writers constructed their literary works through the intricate interplay of sound, sensation, argument, and symbolism; and ii) how the biblical writers simultaneously deconstructed their poetic worlds, through phenomena such as ambiguity and word-play. Deconstruction evokes the playfulness and uncontrollability of writing, the tendency of every whole to fragment, to impart the incoherence of the world. It also implies an openness to a variety of post-structuralist approaches and agendas. Structuralism was an heroic attempt to reduce all human cultural productions to a limited set of logical operations and issues. Post-structuralism is both more subjective, in that it calls attention to the plurality of readers and reading communities, and less so, since the subject him/herself is in question. Post-structuralism engages with the strangeness of the text, its resistance to interpretation, its diverse voices, the text as performance, for example of gender. Approaches to be engaged with in the group may include parapoetics, the poetics of reception, as well as stylistics and rhetorics.
Developing Exegetical Methods This unit aims is to reach a more detailed and precise description of the processes of literary history in the Hebrew Bible. The main interest of the group is to develop exegetical methods by analyzing the synergy effects which will appear by combining various methodological perspectives on the text. In the first year we will concentrate on the literary history and tradition criticism, in the following on form criticism and tradition history, as well as on textual and literary history. One intention in the discussion of relations between different methodological approaches is to encourage also a discussion between different exegetical traditions. To each respective topic we will open a two-part session. In the first part we will start with detailed textual analyses and in the second part open methodological reflections by papers and a final panel discussion. All sessions will be open for papers for scholars on all levels; student member’s papers are also warmly welcome especially when presenting results from PhD studies.
Diachronic Poetology of the Hebrew Bible and Related Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Jewish Literat Description: The research group focuses on historical developments in the use of poetic figures during the creation, editing and transmission of the Hebrew Bible. It is based on the assumption that the stylistic figures used by the authors of ancient Hebrew poetry did not remain completely unaltered during the long history of the Hebrew Bible, but were modified and changed in the course of time, and also new poetic figures were created. The large number of diversified poetic forms that we find in the transmitted texts of the Hebrew Bible is, at least in part, due to a complex development of form and style. In order to deepen the diachronic perspective, and in dialogue with genre history, the research group will also investigate in a comparatistic perspective related literature from the Ancient Near East and Early Judaism, e.g., from the Ugaritic corpus or from the Dead Sea scrolls. By analyzing the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and of related Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Jewish literature in a diachronic perspective, the research group intends to bring together two strings of research that seldom have had contact in the last decades: the poetological study of the Hebrew biblical and related texts, and the literary and redaction critical perspective on the formation of the Hebrew Bible, which in recent research has been applied extensively to the poetical books of the Hebrew Bible (particularly in the Psalms and in the book of Job). What difference does it make for our understanding of the poetry of the Hebrew Bible if we investigate the stylistic and poetic features of the Hebrew texts diachronically? How have poetical features been modified in the course of time? What is the use of poetological observations for discerning editorial processes and reconstructing redaction layers in the Hebrew biblical texts? How can we describe the impact of alternation in form and genre on the function of a text? Which role does the difference in genre play in a diachronic poetology? What evidence exactly holds as empirical and solid if we try to map the dynamics of poetic and stylistic figures? What methodological conclusions need to be drawn from these discussions?
Digital Humanities in Biblical Studies, Early Jewish and Christian Studies This research group focuses on the transformation of Biblical studies, early Jewish and Christian studies in the emerging digital culture. Initiated in the forties by Fr. Roberto Busa, the field of the Digital Humanities has been so called since 2001. This label is linked to several research centers, with PhD, master and bachelor degrees and qualifies the computing transformation of Humanities and Social sciences. Biblical studies, Early Jewish and Christian studies are integrating progressively the digital culture to their fields, and the purpose of this seminar is to make visible and to stimulate this topic in EABS.
Dispelling Demons: Interpretations of Evil and Exorcism in Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Biblica This session considers the different interpretations of demons and monsters as seen in ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Biblical material. It aims to understand how such liminal beings were represented in these different, though connected, contexts, and how they were characterized in both textual and artistic depictions. Demons and other supernatural beings were often constructed in negative: created and defined through measures that could be taken to protect against them or exorcize them from an afflicted individual. The ways in which such figures could be fought or expelled, as well as the qualities that defined a number of benevolent supernatural figures that worked to oppose their malevolence, speaks to their important, but often fluid and shifting, roles in each context and culture.
Early Christianity The constitutive idea of this seminar is to treat Early Christianity as a multivalent phenomenon, characterized by a fundamental diversity. The focus is on interchanges and interactions between various groups and movements in the ancient Mediterranean world that had an impact on developing Christianity, including the interrelations between various Christian groupings. Papers offered to this seminar may focus on both canonical and non-canonical writings as well as other source materials and may apply a variety of methods. We highly encourage interdisciplinary approaches and particularly welcome contributions that cross boundaries between traditional disciplines.
Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible in Light of Empirical Evidence The research group focuses on the editorial techniques applied by ancient scribes during the creation and transmission of the Hebrew Bible. It investigates ancient editorial techniques in light of empirical or documented evidence provided by parallel versions in different books or divergent textual traditions. What can be learned from this evidence about the factual scribal techniques or ancient methods of editing, and how do they relate to the classic methodological assumptions made in redaction criticism which seeks to reconstruct redaction history without empirical evidence? Leading questions of the research group are: How do the editorial changes that are empirically observable relate to the respective older text, how do they impact its form and message? Would the changes we observe by comparing parallel versions and divergent manuscript traditions be detectable also in the case that such documented evidence would be unavailable? What methodological conclusions need to be drawn from these observations?
Emotions and the Biblical World The last few decades have witnessed a growing interest in the study of emotions among scholars of antiquity, reflecting a more general interest among scholars of various disciplines in how different societies throughout the centuries have conceptualised and represented emotions. The Emotions and the Biblical World research group explores the role that emotions play in biblical writings, and in Early Judaism and Early Christianity more generally. This includes but is not limited to patterns of articulating emotions, their significance in worship and broadly understood religious experience, the role of emotions in strategies of persuasion, the vocabulary used to describe emotions and their manifestations, translating emotions discourse, as well as the social and cultural factors that influence their expression, suppression or repression, with a particular focus on the relationship between emotions and gender, and between emotions and the construction of otherness. The literary corpora that we consider are not limited to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, but include also other Early Jewish and Early Christian writings.
Enoch within and outside the Books of Enoch: parabiblical writings, iconography and oral tradition "The corpus of parascriptural writings attributed to the biblical patriarch Enoch was originally composed in either Aramaic or Hebrew no later than 1 st cent. BCE, although some of its constituents (e.g. The Astronomical Book, The Book of Watchers) are dated to a much earlier period (3 rd cent. BCE). Its intellectual offspring survived in multilingual cultural landscape of the apocalyptic Judaeo-Christian traditions in three versions. 1 Enoch is fully attested in Ethiopic, with a number of extant segments in 2 Aramaic from Qumran, as well as Greek passages (embedded in the Byzantine chronographic compositions); there are also fragments in Latin. 2 Enoch is wholly extant only in Church Slavonic (hence its designation as the Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch), and 3 Enoch is attested exclusively in Hebrew. Significantly, The Book of Watchers, which was also known to the Church Fathers (e.g. Tertullian and Origen), was quoted as “scripture” in the Epistle of Jude (1:14-15). Since hitherto the scholarly discourse has been focused predominantly on apocryphal compositions ascribed to Enoch (i.e. 1, 2 and 3 Enoch), the current session will be aiming at the interdisciplinary analysis of his image not within, but outside of the writings designated by his name."
Europe Contested: Contemporary Bible Readings Performed by “Ordinary” Readers in a European Context Building on the success of our inaugural workshop at the 2015 annual meeting, we have now established a 3-year research unit to begin a thorough investigation into the following: • How “ordinary” Europeans read and interpret biblical texts; • How the unique contextual realities of present-day Europe impact upon the readings produced by “ordinary” European readers; • How to meet the methodological challenges experienced when undertaking such research in a European setting. In this context, we use “European” to refer solely to Europe’s geographical borders, as opposed to appealing to definitions derived from ethnicity or history. Similarly, “ordinary” refers to any pre-critical reader of the Bible (i.e. someone that does not have knowledge of Hebrew, Greek or Latin, or the higher-critical methods of biblical interpretation). Once a prominent player in global affairs, and the birthplace of Western culture, Europe now finds itself on the cusp of great political, economic, and cultural change. With an increased movement between people from within the borders of Europe and a growing influx of migrants and refugees from other continents (caused partly by war and partly by economic and ecological crises), the notion of “European-ness” has become fluid and contested. This research group therefore seeks to analyse the way in which “ordinary” European readers engage with biblical texts as a means of investigating this changing nature of Europe and European identity. This unit ultimately therefore seeks to ask: Who are “Europeans” today? Which kind of values should be seen as “European”? How do “ordinary” Europe readers engage with biblical texts? Does a “European” reading of the Bible even exist? And how do these “Europeans” engage with the Bible in order to clarify European identity issues?
Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures This unit brings together scholars and practitioners to investigate scribal culture in biblical and para-biblical literatures in comparison and contrast with the practice of writing fan fiction. Writers of fan fiction are well-versed in specific canons, for example a book or TV series. They engage with their canons in depth and create literature either set in the same fictional world as their canonical material or featuring the same characters. The material produced by fans, known as fan fiction, is a way of engaging with perceived canonical material that is intuitive and emotional, and can also be subversive. This research unit investigates possible intersections of fans’ ways of creating material based on a canon and (post-) biblical interpreters’ or redactors’ ways of compiling commentary or supplementary material on biblical canons in antiquity. The unit invites constructive and critical engagement with discontinuities (as well as continuities). For example, fan fiction is a contemporary phenomenon whose increased visibility is due to the Internet; put more generally, production and distribution is based on infrastructure different from ancient writings; therefore one may also expect different power relations and institutional contexts. Fan fiction can be compared to the practices of groups of interpreters who have impacted the Bible and biblical interpretation in significant ways. This comparison can raise and answer questions about group identity, power, subversion, and impact of derivative works upon the canon. Fan fiction as a heuristic model allows us to study historical responses to antique corpora of texts, expressions of identities couched in derivative works, subversive manipulations of a canonical status quo, and emotional reactions to a canonical work.
Graeco-Roman Society The research group focuses a) on various aspects of the social life of the Graeco-Roman world in which Jews and Christians operated (e.g. household networks and religion, kinship, friendship and other relationships, slavery, prostitution, social and geographical mobility, social groups, everyday life in Graeco-Roman cities etc.) that are part of the socio-historical context of the New Testament texts and therefore provide insight into them, and b) on artifacts from the Graeco-Roman world (e.g. inscriptions, papyri and archeological findings) that can shed light into the life of Jewish and Christian groups of this time. Papers that present interdisciplinary approaches to the topics under discussion and offer new insights and fresh interpretations of Jewish and Christian sources placing them within their socio-historical context are welcome.
Group 1 Community This is a sample community for development of abstracts.
Hellenistic Judaism This research group provides a forum for discussing the broad scope of Hellenistic Judaism: history and historiography, theology, literature, society, economy and culture of the various Hellenistic Jewish communities, as well as the relationship between the motherland and Hellenistic Diaspora Jews, and their attitude towards the native population, society and culture
Historical Approaches to the Bible and the Biblical World (HABBW) This research unit provides a forum on historical method when dealing with the history of Palestine/Israel (“Geschichte Israels”) and the relevant media mainly in the second and first Millennium BCE. We seek to foster scholarly and open-minded discussions integrating archaeology, history of media (incl. literary theory) and cultural studies. Beside a core-panel with frequent presence, invited papers are scheduled as well as open sessions.
Iconography and Biblical Studies Why iconography? Archaeology provides Biblical Studies with information essential for understanding the biblical text in its historical context. An important branch of archaeology is iconography, the study of pictorial expressions. Pictorial expressions depict a vast range of subjects: the natural and cultivated world, daily life, rituals, ideas – even imaginative notions (e.g. symbols, imagery). Thus, ancient Near Eastern iconography provides the (scholarly) community not only with information about the world in which the Bible emerged and was written, but also evidence relating to the perception, symbol systems, and so forth of the people who inhabited this ‘world’. Studying pictorial material contemporary to the biblical documents (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) affords insight into the historical context of the text and facilitates an awareness of how the people contemporaneous with the text thought, imagined, and observed reality. For these reasons, and others, iconography merits sustained attention and effort as a road which leads to a more nuanced and more complete picture of many aspects of Biblical Studies. Papers presented in this programme will deal with methodological issues and/ or address case studies in the common area of ancient Near Eastern iconography and Biblical Studies. Papers can be presented in the field of exegesis or history of religion (Israelite, Judaist, early Christian and pre-Islam). Because of methodological interests, occasionally papers can address topics of later date or cover larger time periods in presenting iconological overviews (history of a motif).
Intersections: A Forum for Research on Ancient Israel, Hebrew Bible, and Cognate Topics ‘Intersections’ provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and discussion of the full range of methods and interdisciplinary investigations currently being applied to the study of the Hebrew Bible, ancient Israel, and cognate topics, including their contemporary receptions. It celebrates diversity and encourages presentations by scholars working in less-trodden areas/approaches. ‘Intersections’ aims at countering current tendencies toward the fragmentation of our field into separate mini/micro-fields and at furthering interactions among scholars using various approaches and working in different areas in order to stimulate new insights through cross-fertilization.
Israel and the Production and Reception of Authoritative Books in the Persian and Hellenistic Period The goal of this research programme is to explore the social processes, ideological matrices, and matters of identity formation involved in the production and use of authoritative texts in the Persian and Early Hellenistic periods. Papers (and thematic sessions) may deal with: How the various books in the Hebrew Bible have been shaped in order to serve as guidelines and authoritative illustrations for behaviour for the emerging Jewish communities in Yehud or in the diaspora in the Persian and early Hellenistic periods; How some books were intended to socialize their readers by constructing shared images of the past; How authoritative books shaped and reflected a system of shared sites of memory that contributed to self-understanding and social cohesion; How and why books became authoritative and what ‘authoritative’ may mean in this regard; Anything related to the production and reception of authoritative books in the Persian and Early Hellenistic period, from socio-political considerations to studies of the discursive environment within which the books emerged or read and reread. Thematic sessions may deal with individual books, collections of books; or may focus on some aspect of the production and reception of the relevant books. Papers will be invited, but EABS members are also welcome to submit proposals.
Israel in the Ancient Near East Ancient Israel was in all phases of its history embedded in the different cultural frameworks of the ancient Near East. The research group aims at creating a common forum for scholars investigating issues of religion, language and culture in the ancient Near East and welcomes participants from across the range of subjects and time periods.
Judaeans in the Persian Empire This research group seeks to treat the Persian Empire as a significant social and historical context for the development of Second Temple Judaism rather than just a chronological time frame. The emphasis is more on historiographic than literary questions, with a strong commitment to interaction with cognate disciplines (e.g., Assyriology, Achaemenid studies, Iranology, social sciences).
Law and Narrative The amalgamation of law and narrative is not only a key feature in the formation of the Narrative Books of the Hebrew Bible, but proves to be a dominant aspect of Early Jewish literature as well. The research group aims at illuminating the complex interplay between legal and narrative material in both areas by bringing together redaction criticism with a focus on reception history. In this way, it aspires to enhance the understanding of continuities and discontinuities in the development of Biblical and Early Jewish texts.
Medicine in Bible and Talmud This research unit/ panel is generously sponsored by the Collaborative Research Center – SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion”, Freie Universität Berlin and the German Research Foundation/ Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Knowledge and practice of medicine was a well established field in Late Antiquity and must have been formulated within the context of a medical curriculum to which we do have access only via Graeco-Roman and Syriac texts, while no Hebrew or Aramaic work has been transmitted. Nevertheless, some indications of medical ideas and healing practices are alluded to in the Bible, in many Rabbinic sources, as well as in the healing texts and magico-magical passages of the New Testament and the apocrypha. Furthermore, one may suggest that all these sources adapted and/ or appropriated earlier and contemporary medical knowledge that prevailed in their surroundings, be it from ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, Graeco-Roman or Syriac traditions or knowledge systems. The panels will focus on the complex and often subtler processes of reception, adaptation and production of (secular or scientific) medical knowledge in the transformative period of (Late) Antiquity. Particular attention will be paid also to the interplay between form and content in the representations of medical discourses. Recent studies have begun to discuss how the use of rhetoric strategies, literary structures, or the choice of genres affects also the conveyed ideas and concepts in ancient “knowledge cultures”. In which way did specific hermeneutics (Listenwissenschaft/ encyclopaedism/ linguocentrism/ exegesis) not only serve as a ‘container’ or ‘channel’ for transmission or as a seal for authority but also as a method for acquiring knowledge? An analysis of these specific ways of appropriation of medical ideas and practices might show also the particular cultural or religious (Mesopotamian, Jewish, Christian, Graeco-Roman) character of the epistemologies and the knowledge generated through these exchanges.
Metaphor in the Bible This seminar understands itself as continuing the tradition of the longstanding and prolific EABS seminar “Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible.” The new factor is the expansion of the subject unto the study of the New Testament. It is the goal of this research program to foster a dialogue and mutual enrichment between the study of metaphors in the areas of the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and of the New Testament. The seminar will focus both on the aspect of metaphor theories and on using multiple theories for the interpretation of metaphors in the Bible. In the comparison of the presence or absence of metaphors and their role and function in Biblical texts, we shall be looking for the specifics of the use of metaphor in particular time periods, genres, contexts or other traditions.
Nationalism, Religion, and Archaeology As a discipline rooted in the 19th century world of European colonialism and nation-state formation, archaeology has throughout its history been entangled in politics of nationalism, race, ethnicity, and religious worldviews. Because of the visual and tangible nature of its evidence, archaeology has been (and still is) at the forefront of identity construction and communication. No country in the Mediterranean basin, as elsewhere, has been left undebated; from the Acropolis in Athens to the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem. This session aims to increase understanding of the modern political impact of archaeological fieldwork and interpretation, as well as of site preservation and presentation. It especially encourages engagement with issues relevant today and best practices in terms of fieldwork, site management, and public outreach. The session topic is important to address, especially to non-archaeological audiences, who are often not fully aware of the political and ethical implications and decisions of fieldwork and site conservation practices.
Northwest Semitic Epigraphy Related to the Biblical World This research group will further develop the work of the unit “Epigraphical and Paleological Studies Pertaining to the Biblical World”, which met at Lisbon in 2008 (EABS), Vienna in 2007 (SBL), Rome in 2009, London in 2011, Amsterdam in 2012 and St Andrews in 2013. The group was chaired by Prof. Meir Lubetski of the City University of New York. In 2014 (SBL Vienna), Annalisa Azzoni (Vanderbilt University) and Robert Deutsch (independent scholar) were the co-chairs. The objective of the present research group is to advance the Ancient Near Eastern research by integrating the constantly growing corpus of epigraphic material from the 1st millennium BC. Northwest Semitic inscriptions, found mainly on ostraca, seals and seal impressions are important prime sources, contemporary with the formation of the biblical texts. Equally important for our epigraphical research are all the relevant fields of study in the material culture of the 1st millennium BC from the southern Levant. According to EABS’ policy, only papers dealing with material from controlled excavations will be considered.
Orality and Literacy in Early Christianity Exegetes and historians of Early Christianity are gradually rediscovering the importance, principles and functions of orality in ancient communication. Although this discovery has led to some excesses and simplifications (cf. the recent criticism by L. Hurtado, 2014), the status and interaction of orality and writing within the cultures of the Greco-Roman world as well as the Christian subculture deserve being taken seriously and analyzed in depth. This inquiry, involving a strong hermeneutic and methodological potential, is nowadays being led (almost) exclusively in the English speaking world and in (South) Africa. Our research group proposes to fill in the blank within European exegesis and bring its own contribution to the debate. Its intention is, to start with, to describe the status and role of orality in the context of the cultures of the 1st century Mediterranean world, especially of the Christian subculture, its interactions with written texts and the degree of literacy in the proto-Christian microcosm. Once this cultural background has been set, we aim to explore two different cases and forms in the ancient Christian communication – the Pauline letters and the Gospel of Mark – and the interface of orality and writing in them.
Parables in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity: Towards a New Comparative Approach Within ancient Judaism only the Jesus movement and the pharisaic / rabbinic movement share the extensive use of parables as a form of religious teaching, reflection and propaganda. This research group examines the methodological problems, the scientific benefits and pitfalls of comparative research into parables of Jesus transmitted in early Christian literature and the parables extant in Rabbinic literature.
Pauline Literature The research group “Pauline Literature” has a historical-critical focus, including material evidence from the first century world of Paul. At the same time, this seminar wants to foster dialogue between historical and contemporary perspectives, between exegesis and contemporary discussions in theology and religious studies. In both the historical and contemporary perspectives the seminar is particularly interested in the traces of Paul’s theology in the making that we can discover in the texts of his letters.
Pleasure in Early Christian and Jewish Literature Pleasure is a frequent topic in ancient sources across philosophical and religious boundaries. Often ancient authors view pleasure as a threat to the virtuous life, many echoing the maxim that it is the source of all evil. At the same time, depictions of the human/divine encounter are peppered with rich language of delight and enjoyment. Furthermore, many ancient authors acknowledge that religious discourse and spiritual formation require a pleasurable component in order to hold the audience’s attention and ensure its continued participation. The ambiguous role of pleasure is reflected in attempts to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable forms and sources of enjoyment.
Prophecy and Foreign Nations In the course of the last decades, research in the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible has undergone a major change: The phenomenon of the prophetic book as a literary genre sui generis has drawn more and more attention – regarding both its so-called final form and its literary history. In this context, especially for those interested in diachronic research, the comparison with the extra-biblical Ancient Near Eastern prophecies has become an important issue not least for the questions of the origins of the prophetic books and the emergence of a theologically reasoned prophecy of doom. Thus, it has been especially the interrelation between salvation prophecy and a theology of judgment that has become the focus of scholarly attention. Compared with that, the oracles concerning foreign nations have passed a little bit from view, even though they take up a large part of the Biblical prophetic tradition. Therefore, in a recent publication on the topic (Holt et al. [eds.], Concerning the Nations, 2015), Martin Sweeney regards it as a worthy task to try an “attempt at stimulating research on the Oracles concerning the Nations” (xvii). The proposed research unit wants to contribute to this field of research and intends to approach the current discussion of the literary history of the prophetic books from this angle. The leading questions are: What is the literary and theological interrelation of the oracles concerning foreign nations with the Ancient Near Eastern salvation prophecy on the one hand and the Israelite prophecy of doom on the other? Was there a fixed genre of “prophecy concerning foreign nations”, and if so, where was its Sitz im Leben? How can the intertextual relationship between the respective passages of the several Biblical books be determined? Which processes of re-reading and actualising of tradition finally lead to a kind of uniform prophetic image which is reflected by the so-called tripartite eschatological pattern of the prophetic books?
Prophets and Prophecy This unit aims to provide an open forum for scholars to present papers on a variety of topics germane to the study of ancient Israelite prophecy and prophetic literature. All approaches to prophetic literature are welcomed, including historical, literary, rhetorical and theological. We invite paper proposals through the open call for papers.
Relationship between the "Major Prophets" and the "Scroll of the Minor Prophets": text, methodology, "The study of prophetic texts has often been characterized by fragmentation; little interest has been reserved to the composition within individual books, and to the relationships between the so-called Major Prophets and the Twelve Minor Prophets. Exegesis has usually been interested into the identification of the original forms of the oracles or into the Sitz im Leben of the various biblical passages, without giving enough attention to the text in its present form; moreover, little space has been devoted to hermeneutical and theological issues. A diachronic method was often followed, attentive to the origins and to the history of the formation both of individual books and of the prophetic corpus, rather than a synchronous, canonical methodology, more oriented to the theology of the texts. These observations are the background from which to advance the study. Without denying the value of the studies so far elaborated and the methodology predominantly used, our goal is to explore the links and the relationships between the major and minor prophets from a methodological, hermeneutical, and theological point of view. The questions we will try to answer are the following: • How to study the relationships within the prophetic corpus, and what methodology /methodologies to use? • What consequences can be derived from the hermeneutical and theological point of view? • Which texts can be taken into consideration?"
Septuagint of Historical Books "The workshop focuses on the Septuagint versions of the historical books and their influence on the larger methodological framework of Hebrew Bible studies. Since the scholarship of Septuagint historical books is currently in a state of flux and many questions are open, there is a need for a forum to discuss these issues on a wider scope. The aim of this workshop is to illuminate various aspects relating to the textual history of the Greek versions and their underlying Hebrew source texts. This includes questions concerning translation technique, vocabulary and syntax; text-critical issues; revision history; daughter versions; and the impact of Septuagint studies on the textual and editorial history of the Hebrew Scriptures. In Helsinki we plan to organize session(s), with a special focus on various aspects of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel since the Göttingen critical editions for these books are being prepared at the University of Helsinki."
Slavonic Apocrypha This intentionally broad research unit keeps the old name, “Slavonic Apocrypha,” but provides a forum for discussion for both biblical scholars and Slavicists. It includes both the traditionally understood Slavonic Apocrypha, i.e. translations of Hellenistic pseudepigrapha, as well as diverse sacred literature in Slavonic, such as theological discourses, historiographies, hagiographies, liturgical texts, and folk tales that are intertwined with biblical texts in both manuscripts and religious practices. Slavonic Apocrypha are studied as biblical reception history. Because the mechanism of intertextuality in Slavic religious literature was more powerful and longstanding than the assessment of marginality and the differentiation of the texts according to canonical/noncanonical, our forum aims to contribute to the ongoing search for a comprehensive term for apocalyptic, pseudepigraphical, and apocryphal literature. This unit addresses the pressing need for a platform where European scholars of “Slavonic Apocrypha” can express their concerns, discuss solutions, and set mutual goals. It promotes the publication of critical editions of “Slavonic Apocrypha” and discusses the concerns over the digitization project of Slavonic manuscripts. While the name “Slavonic Apocrypha” is inadequate for this corpus of literature, we will wait and allow the scholarly consensus in the field to lead us to a better one.
Slavonic Parabiblical Traditions The appreciation of apocryphal apocalypses, as well as other early pseudepigrapha preserved in Slavonic, goes far beyond their significance for Slavonic studies. Even though the Slavonic texts themselves date from a relatively late period, they are considered to be translations or re-workings of much earlier texts (written not only in Hebrew and Aramaic, but also in Greek, as well as Syriac and Latin). For many of these compositions, their Vorlagen may be dated to the early Second Temple period. Hence these Slavonic parabiblical writings can contribute significantly to a better understanding of Judaism of the Hellenistic age and thus of the roots of Rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Gnosticism, and later mystical thought. The present GIF (German-Israel Fund) project proposes a case study of one overarching thematic cluster of narratives concerning ascents from earth to Heaven and descents from Heaven to earth, with Slavonic cultural heritage as the primary focus of the research. The topoi of “visitors to and from Heaven”, for which there is an extensive but well-defined literature in Jewish and Christian sources, presents a challenging case. Christian traditions for the theme of the journeys to the Beyond are well-known in the Byzantine Commonwealth, but these are usually not compared to contemporary rabbinic accounts or later vernacular Slavonic stories. The cluster of narratives concerning not just the dialogue but the “exchange” of inhabitants of the two realms can be roughly divided into two different but interconnected clusters: (1) the celestial ascents of humans and (2) descents of celestial beings. The celestial journey became a central motif for early Jewish apocalypticism and proved to be highly significant for the birth of the Christianity. Apocalyptic literature is among the most influential ancient genres representing innovative thought in the field of imagining immaterial space in its connection with the physical and historical reality. Medieval Slavonic literature has preserved a unique and rich corpus of ancient apocalyptic writings. Of the six major early Jewish apocalypses—the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (1 Enoch), the Slavonic Book of Enoch (2 Enoch), the Apocalypse of Abraham, the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch), the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Baruch), and the Fourth Book of Ezra (4 Ezra)—three have survived in Slavonic. Two of these—2 Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham—have been preserved exclusively in Slavonic, while 3 Baruch is available both in Greek and Slavonic recensions. To these we should add the Ladder of Jacob, a short but important apocalyptic composition known only in Slavonic, a Hebrew fragment of which has been found in the Cairo Geniza. Other ancient Christian languages are less represented in the apocalyptic tradition: 1 Enoch survives in Ethiopic and Aramaic fragments, 2 Baruch is preserved in Syriac, and 4 Ezra is known in many versions, including Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Georgian. This fact makes Old Church Slavonic, at least statistically, a main source language for early Jewish apocalypticism. Angelic visitors to earth represent one of the noteworthy topoi of the same apocalyptic genre. The intense dealing with the mediating forces within the monotheistic paradigm was one of the central features of mythologizing tendencies in Jewish thought in the Second Temple period and laid the basis for the development of Christology and later mysticism. Early Jewish texts preserved (often uniquely) in Slavonic contain crucial data for this topic. For example, the image of Metatron as a surrogate for God, so significant for the development of bi- and trinitarian Christology, has its early and detailed documentation in the Apocalypse of Abraham. Other themes, such as fallen angels, celestial demonology, angelic intercessors, warrior angels, etc., provide unique and underexplored material for contextualizing many enigmatic texts and motifs in the New Testament, Rabbinic literature, Hechalot and Kabbala traditions. The overall research questions in this proposal have several different aspects to be taken into account. 1) Comparisons of particular topoi within Slavonic apocryphal heritage which are known to be attested in or based on earlier Jewish and/or Christian traditions. 2) More detailed analyses of the religious and ritual contexts of these topoi in parabiblical writings from the point of view of calendar, liturgy, etc., as a prerequisite for improved results in understanding the Slavonic texts. 3) Higher resolution consideration of the original language (e.g. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) of topoi later appearing in Slavonic. The present project proposes a case study of one thematic cluster of narratives concerning “Visitors From Heaven, Visitors To Heaven”, which can be found in all these literatures and languages (including Slavonic); its parallel attestations in Judaeo-Slavonic contexts will allow the combined expertise of the research team to focus on a common question from differing perspectives.
Sociological and Anthropological Approaches to the Study of the Evidence of the Mishnah What can we know of the society and culture of Jews of Roman Palestine generally or of the early rabbinic movement specifically at the end of the second and beginning of the third centuries? While we have relevant archaeological evidence and writings (primarily of non-Jews), there is arguably only one major literary source produced by Palestinian Jews themselves of the era. It is the early rabbis’ Mishnah (and arguably, perhaps some of Mishnah’s companion sources, notably in Tosefta).
Textual Criticism of the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Qur’an This research group focuses on the textual study and criticism of sacred texts from the ancient Eastern Mediterranean world that later had a global influence; the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’anic text. All three have similarities and differences. They have influenced other writings and at the same time have themselves undergone external influence bearing on questions of interrelationship, orality, textuality and language. Not only the aforementioned characteristics, but also their preservation and the copying as well as the proliferation of manuscripts are of particular interest to textual scholars. The sine qua non of this research unit for Textual Criticism is the study of the major witnesses to the text of the Old Testament – the Hebrew Bible, the texts from Qumran, the Septuagint, the Masoretic Text – as well as the Aramaic Targumim, the Syriac translations, the Vulgate, Commentaries and others. Of course, also the study of the Critical and the Majority Text, of the versions of the New Testament, as well as the Patristic citations and commentaries, but also Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and others. And finally, the research unit includes the textual criticism of the Qur’an, standard text or authoritative text, and the qira’at tradition (that corresponds to different readings); the cultural milieu and context in which the Qur’anic text has been transmitted and used and the tradition of the commentaries. This research unit seeks to inspire debate among textual critics from all three fields.The scope/objectives of this group have the potential for expansion based on the materials, texts and approaches under discussion. Relevant topics for discussion would include: The study of OT, NT or Qur’anic writings not only in manuscripts, but also inscribed or printed, The texts themselves and the circumstances of their transmission Types or groupings of texts Reconstructions of forms of text Textual Criticism and history Textual Criticism and exegesis Textual Criticism and theology Textual Criticism and the world
The Bible and Ecology Ecological crisis is one of the main challenges in need of combined response in the last decades. In the critical discussion regarding its roots, biblical scholars have turned to the biblical text and its interpretation through the ages, searching for possible misinterpretations that supported ideologically the environmental exploitation and degradation. They also developed different methodological models for reading the biblical text from an ecological perspective. In light of the pressing global ecological crisis, the research unit would like to continue the critical and inter/trans-disciplinary exploration of the Bible and ecology. The research unit aims to: The research unit aims to: explore and employ various methodological trends in reading well-known and uncharted biblical and early Christian texts from ecological perspective; analyze the use of these texts from the perspectives of various stakeholders including but not limited to biblical scholars from all over the world; to promote dialogue with various groups from different global locations, within and beyond biblical exegesis and theology, that can improve the ecological biblical interpretation and contribute to other areas of knowledge while enhancing knowledge distribution.
The Bible in Arabic in Judaism, Christianity, Islam Shortly after the expansion of Muslim rule in the 7th and 8th centuries CE, Christians, Jews, and Samaritans living in the Muslim world began to translate their sacred texts– the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Samaritan Pentateuch– into Arabic. Many of these translations, from languages such as Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Coptic, have come down to us in a vast corpus of manuscripts and fragments hailing from monasteries, synagogues and libraries, especially in the Middle East. Compared to other translation traditions of the Bible throughout its history, the Arabic versions in manuscript and later on in print are the most numerous and reveal an unusually large variety in stylistic and didactic approaches, vocabulary, scripts and ideologies. Although originally intended for internal consumption by the different denominations that produced them, the translations were also quoted and adapted by Muslim writers, who were familiar with many biblical episodes and characters through the Qur’an. The study of Arabic translations of the Bible has only recently started to come into its own, but much remains to be done. We invite papers on the various aspects of the production and reception of the Arabic Bible outlined above.
The Bible in the Iberian World: Fundaments of a Religious Melting Pot That the Iberian Peninsula represents a key hub between Christianity, Judaism and Islam is widely known. However, theologians and historians have been studying these phenomena as isolated events and not as part of a much larger Iberian world characteristic, one that should be understood regarding the broader Western thought. This session’s goal, though experimental, is to provide a space for discussion for those of us who work with biblical themes in the context of the Iberian world. This world includes not only the peninsular area but also its colonial spaces, e.g., American, African and Asian places where Portuguese and Spaniards played an influential role starting in the Early Modern period. Moreover, the subjects to discuss are not limited nor to a particular time frame nor a specific chronological period for this first phase. Our initial objectives are to underline the importance of the Iberian world as a space of communication, or not, between the different religions of the Bible, of biblical interpretation, and how the Iberian world was prone to be influenced by the Bible.
The Bible in the Twenty-First Century: Politization of Bibles and Biblization of Politics Biblical Interpretation today is characterized by a variety of different concerns and approaches. The focus of this program unit is on the use and misuse of biblical texts in past and present politics, in the broadest sense; and conversely, on the use and misuse of politics in biblical interpretation and transmission. The scope may include analysis of the biblical and related texts and contexts, questions of method and theory, and especially attention to interpretations- interpreters and their contexts. Papers are welcome from such perspectives as psychology and psychoanalysis, philosophy, postcolonial studies, gender studies, social studies, economic studies, racial-ethnic studies, and queer studies.
The Biblical World and its Reception This seminar aims to provide a forum in which participants can engage in the theoretical issues pertaining to the reception of the ‘biblical world’ throughout the last 2,500 years and/or present specific examples of how biblical and chronologically-related texts have been appropriated within later cultural, political, and artistic contexts. Insights drawn from a wide range of disciplines are encouraged and the reception history of any relevant text from the biblical period will be considered suitable material for presentation and discussion.
The Core of Deuteronomy and Its World "This research group is attentive to the core of the Book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 12— 26/28). We want to explore the internal coherence of the legal prescriptions and to take a close look at the world that is imagined to be regulated by them. We also want to explore how this legal core relates to the notion of ‘Israel’ presented in the framework of the book. The unit will continue investigating the apparent tension between the utopian character of the society that is imagined in these ‘laws’ and their focus on down-to-earth politics and economics, which was the topic of our first meeting 2017. Relevant topics are: - Why was Deuteronomy created? - The nature of ‘Israel’ in the book, especially the relation between the society that appears in the core legislations and the ‘All Israel’ of the frame. - The cultic integration of both Judah and Samaria: the adoption of the cult of the ‘god of Israel’ within Judah and its possible connection with local religious practices and Iron-age cults of the two kingdoms. - Issues related to the book’s further application and authorization in the Yehud and Samarian communities: Why did Deuteronomy have audiences in both Samaria and Yehud/Judea who considered themselves to belong to Israel?
The Dead Sea Scrolls The Research Group provides a forum for discussing the Dead Sea Scrolls, with a particular emphasis on worship in the Scrolls and in other sources from the late Second Temple period, such as, some of the late books of the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Chronicles, Daniel, and some Psalms), the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, as well as available inscriptions and archaeological evidence.
The Greek of Jews and Christians Through the Pax Romana The writings of Jews and Christians in the Second Temple and early Christian periods form the basis of all later discussions on Judaism and Christianity. The dynamics of language used by these authors is necessarily pertinent to understanding what they sought to convey. This research unit therefore focuses on the linguistic and exegetical study of Koine Greek up to the death of Marcus Aurelius.
The Language of Colour in the Bible: From Word to Image The study of the language of colour has generated great attention since the 19th century in several fields, especially philology and art; exploring the great civilizations considered the bedrock of Europe: Greece and Rome. Surprisingly the Bible, the other pillar on which European culture is founded, has been left on the sidelines of this research, creating a primordial void. This research project aims to bridge this gap and provide a more complete picture of the language of colour in a book that has inspired both literary and artistic works: the Bible. An interdisciplinary study of the biblical text in its original languages can certainly shed new light on the interpretation of the image and vice versa. The objectives pursued in the field of philology are to determine the chromatic lexicon of the biblical text, the sensory perception it reflects and the symbolic dimension from which it emanates. In this sense, we believe that the Apocryphal literature and the early Christian literature can shed light on the meaning of colour in the biblical texts both with regard to sensorial perception and symbolism. Concerning the field of artistic representations which have been inspired by the Bible, the objective of the research is to study how the artist uses chromatic language to reflect the biblical scenes, as well as analysing how the biblical language is used and reinterpreted. The period chosen to be studied is that covering the 10th-12th centuries. During that period, many Illuminated Bibles were produced, containing both the passages of the Old and New Testaments.
The Roman Forum: New Testament, Early Christianity, and Early Rabbinics ‘The Roman Forum’ is a forum for the exchange of ideas concerning methods and interdisciplinary investigations applied to the study of the New Testament, Judaism and early Christianity in their various forms, their respective textual corpora in the Roman period (Rabbinics, patristics), and their contemporary receptions. It celebrates diversity and encourages presentations by scholars working in less-trodden areas and approaches. The Forum aims at countering current tendencies toward the fragmentation of our field into separate micro-fields. It furthers interaction among scholars who use various approaches and work in different areas, thus stimulating new insights through cross-fertilization.
Virtue In Biblical Literature "What did virtue (i.e. human behaviour perceived as morally exemplary) mean for ancient Jews and Christians? How did they discuss it? This research unit analyses conceptions of virtue in ancient Judaism and early Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean context (ca. 500 BCE – 300 CE). Scholars have typically searched for the roots of western virtue ethics in Greek philosophy, considering Jewish and Christian sources to be, at best, of secondary importance. Admittedly, the Semitic languages lack a specific term designating virtue, but this does not mean that texts written in those languages could not be interested in, or familiar with, conceptions of virtue. Moreover, the Greek term ἀρετή is adopted early on in Jewish and Christian literature composed in Greek. Today, as the diversity and interrelatedness of Mediterranean cultures are recognized, ancient conceptions of virtue must be reassessed. The unit invites scholars to reflect critically on early Jewish and Christian ideas of virtue. The Greek culture is not given a primacy in defining what virtue is; rather, the aim is to acknowledge the variety of ancient discursive practices concerning morally valuable life."
Vision and Envisionment in the Bible and its World "Communication about visionary experiences and visionary contents is a widespread phenomenon both, in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as well as in acient pagan cultures. The research group focuses on this phenomenon and seeks to explore rhetorical and narrative strategies that texts make use of in describing experiences and contents of prophetic vision. Among others the following texts and traditions may be of primary importance with regard to our research interest: - prophetic traditions in the Hebrew Bible, - apocalyptic traditions in ancient Judaism and the New Testament, - descriptions of otherworldly journeys, - accounts on visionary experiences in ancient pagan cultures. With respect to methodology our main interest lays on the linguistic characteristics of representations of vision on the one hand, and on the way that these representations are capable of affecting their intended ancient audiences. In this regard our group analyses - rhetorical and narratological features of visionary accounts, - the implied impact that envisionment unfolds upon its hearers resp. readers, - material and bodily aspects of communication about visionary experiences."
What a god is not – the early history of negative theology The question “What is a god?” has been treated extensively in literature. In this session, we want to approach that question from a different angle. When people start to answer this question in a negative way, namely by negating positive statements about gods or by questioning the human ability to understand the divine at all, this demonstrates a more sophisticated approach to this question. In treating traditions from various places within one session and bringing experts from various field together, we hope to gain new insights in the emergence, interconnectedness and influence of these traditions.
Wisdom in Israel and in ANE Wisdom Literature This unit seeks to provide a forum for the exploration of current and emerging approaches to and methodologies in the study of Wisdom Literature. The primary focus is on Biblical wisdom – Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes, and the Wisdom Psalms, as well as Qumran wisdom texts and Deutero-Canonical works such as Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. The secondary focus is on wisdom literature from elsewhere in the Ancient Near East, insofar as these bear on our understanding of biblical wisdom texts. Our unit will hold two sessions each year, one of invited papers and the other of offered papers.