Jewish authors and power in the Graeco-Roman period
Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Bern
3-4 June 2021
Deadline for submissions: 1 February 2021
Questions regarding power and power relations have been a prominent topic in the study of the Greco-Roman period and especially regarding the complicated and eventful history of Judaism in this period. Whether relating to the use of power by ruling empires or the resistance to it by local populations, scholarship has often focused on forms of ‘physical’ power like state violence and the extortion of revenue from subjugated populations. The adoption of post-colonial perspectives by scholars of antiquity and Jewish Studies changed this trend and brought with it new studies on forms of ‘soft’ power and the ways in which subaltern groups employed it. While undoubtedly a welcome development, some contemporary studies are too quick to apply contemporary concepts and circumstances to the ancient world. In this workshop, we wish to turn our look to the ancient evidence and to the ways in which (mainly) Jewish authors describe and establish notions of power. In the Greco-Roman period, and throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East, different communities encountered new and changing forms of dominance and had to respond to them by rethinking old concepts and formulating new ones. We ask: How do the authors define power, or do they define it at all? How is power described, established and negotiated in (and between?) texts? How do the authors perceive power, how does it affect their writings and form their texts (implicitly or explicitly)? How is power tangible in character depictions, virtues, moral and social standards? Do the authors pursue an inside, for example Rome centered, view or rather an outside one? Are there any limitations to power or alternative sources to it? Can we detect notions of power balance or attempts to create such a balance? We aim to bring together students of the Greco-Roman world with different points of view on the centrality and importance of Hellenistic and Roman empires and their impact on the Mediterranean and Near Eastern authors for a discussion of the matter. Contributions from various disciplines are welcome and this workshop explicitly invites MA students, PhD students as well as Post-Docs to contribute. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by February 1st. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the workshop will take place online via Zoom.