Being Jewish, Writing Greek

Via Earl Fontainelle – the schedule for the upcoming conference, Being Jewish, Writing Greek, has been posted. Looks like a very promising conference on many levels. I copy the schedule and original circular from the conference website, which includes more information, here.

Greek texts written by Jews in the Hellenistic and Imperial period (ca. 3rd century B.C.E. to 3rd C.E.) occupy numerous positions within two traditions; Jewish liturgical, religious and legal texts combine with historians, poets, novelists and tragedians. Some are translations, others new compositions. Some are written for a Jewish, others for a non-Jewish audience. Much has been said about the historical as well as theological contexts and content of these works. However, relatively few studies have considered these Jewish writings in Greek as literary works.

In this conference, then, we want to bring together scholars from the fields of Classics, Biblical Studies, Jewish Studies and beyond to explore the literary aspects of these Jewish texts in Greek. The interdisciplinary nature of the conference is vital, as we seek to consider these texts as the product of two interacting cultural identities. We believe that a focus on form, in addition to content, has the potential to better our understanding of the negotiations of culture and identity which come with being Jewish, and writing Greek.

The key issues we want to tackle include, but are not limited to:

  • How do we define Jewish literariness? what problems arise with setting it against a Greek literariness? Or is this distinction artificial?
  • (How) do works mark their indebtedness to both Jewish and Greek literary traditions?
  • What strategies do authors employ in translating ‘poetics’?
  • On what level is cultural identity negotiated in this literature; through lexical choice, through poetic imagery, generic form, or narrative structure? Are there conflicts in the relative ‘Jewishness’ or ‘Greekness’ of these forms within texts?
  • How are conceptions of Jewish literature in Greek thematised in the texts themselves? What part do literary personae and authorial voices play in articulating these conceptions?
  • How do texts shed light on, or even show awareness of, questions of literary canonicity in and between the two cultures? In other words, are there texts which could enable a re-evaluation of canonical forms in both literary cultures?
  • How do these cross-cultural texts reflect on and foreground the process of writing, composition, or translation. What sorts of conflict or synthesis can we detect? What might this say about the position of writing and literature in these two cultures?
  • How do Jewish inscribed forms differ from Greek ones? Does the epigraphical and inscriptional evidence – e.g. funeral epigrams and magical inscriptions – challenge the view of the manuscript tradition?
  • How do we distinguish Jewish from Christian texts? What methodological problems does Christian literature present for this project?
  • How might all this literary discussion in turn elucidate historical and theological issues?

Specific authors and genres which we believe deserve special attention include:

  • Letter of Aristeas
  • Artapanus
  • Aristoboulus
  • (ps.-)Eupolemus
  • (ps.-)Hecataeus
  • Demetrius the Chronographer
  • Dramatic fragments with Jewish content
  • Ezekiel’s Exagogê
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Ben Sira
  • Ps.-Phocylides
  • Sibylline Oracles
  • 1–4 Maccabees
  • Joseph and Aseneth
  • Judith
  • Tobit
  • Testament of Job
  • Testament of Abraham
  • Jewish inscriptions, e.g. funerary, dedicatory
  • Jewish magical texts
  • Josephus, e.g. Jewish Antiquities, Against Apion
  • Philo
  • The additions to Esther and Daniel
  • 1 Esdras

The way we choose to answer these questions has ramifications for our understanding of two different literary traditions in the ancient world, and how they were viewed and handled by each other. Yet, perhaps more importantly, by approaching afresh this rich group of texts, we can move beyond traditional single-disciplinary approaches to reconfigure our ways of analysing Classical and Jewish literature in a broader Mediterranean context. Finally, we hope this conference will contribute to wider debates about the nature and value of ‘literature’ across cultures, and challenge both ancient and modern narratives of literary history at large.

— Programme —

Wednesday 6th September

13.00-13.45 – Registration

13.45-14.00 – Welcome

14.00-15.00 – Sylvie Honigman: ‘How to Rewrite a Source: the Letter of Aristeas and 2 Maccabees’

15.00-16.00 – Jim Aitken: ‘Cross-Cultural Genre Bending: Wisdom‘s Peculiarity’

16.00-16.30 – Tea/Coffee

16.30-17.30 – Marieke Dhont: ‘No Author is an Island: A Systemic Approach to the Development of Jewish-Greek Literature’

17.30-18.30 – Stuart Thomson: ‘Who’s Philo? Whose Philo? Alexandrian Texts and Identities’

18.30 – Reception

Thursday 7th September

09.30-10.30 – Anna Furlan: ‘The ‘One God’ of the Pseudo-Orphic Hieros Logos

10.30-11.00 – Tea/Coffee

11.00-12.00 – Hindy Najman: ‘Plurilingualism and the case of 4QInstruction’

12.00-13.00 – Simon Goldhill: TBC

13.00-14.30 – Lunch

14.30-15.30 – Alexander Noak: ‘Greek and Jewish Perspectives on the Roman Empire in the Sibylline Oracles’

15.30-16.30 – Eran Almagor: ‘Josephus the Greek Imperial Author’

16.30-17.00 – Tea/Coffee

17.00-18.00 – Sean Adams: ‘Sympotic Questions: The Genre and Structure of the Letter of Aristeas

19.30 – Conference Dinner (Venue TBC)

Friday 8th September

9.30-10.30 – Jill Hicks-Keeton: ‘Categorizing Joseph and Aseneth: The Evidence of Artapanus, Demetrius, and Philo’

10.30-11.00 – Tea/Coffee

11.00.-12.00 – Eva Mroczek: ‘Ancient Narratives of Literary History and Canon Formation’

12.00-13.00 – Nicholas de Lange: ‘The Poetics of Aquila and Symmachus’

13.00-13.30-45 – Tessa Rajak: Closing Remark