Being Jewish, Writing Greek

Literary Form and Cultural Identity

— Call For Papers: “Being Jewish, Writing Greek” —

The submission deadline has now passed

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:

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

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.

Confirmed Speakers include Jim Aitken (Cambridge, Divinity), Simon Goldhill (Cambridge, Classics), Sylvie Honigman (Ancient History, Tel Aviv), Nicholas de Lange (Cambridge, Divinity), Eva Mroczek (Religious Studies, UC Davis), Hindy Najman (Department of Theology and Religion, Oxford), Maren Niehoff (Department of Jewish Thought, Jerusalem).