Fourth Ancient Judaism Regional Seminar

The Ancient Judaism Regional Seminar is an annual event, held each spring, which brings together faculty and graduate students in Jewish Studies from Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, and other area universities. The seminar was founded in 2013 with the aim of building academic networks among faculty and students along the Northeast Corridor, sharing cutting-edge research in ongoing conversations between junior and senior scholars of Ancient Judaism, and providing opportunities for doctoral students to hone their dissertation ideas and presentation skills. The aspiration for the seminar, as articulated by Prof. Peter Schäfer, is to serve as “an informal and friendly environment for graduate students to share their dissertation research with others, to learn from each other, to receive constructive feedback from a range of students and scholars in the field, and most importantly for all of us to build bridges and help students beyond our universities in their work.” 

The location of the event rotates between institutions, and in 2016, it is scheduled to be hosted by Penn. The event spans two days, and it features panels of presentations on dissertation research by ABD PhD students with faculty respondents and ample time for discussion and debate among the attendees, “lightning-round” sessions by pre-ABD PhD students, and meals and receptions oriented toward academic networking. The organizing committee at Penn plans to add a professionalization session in 2016, drawing on the resources of Penn’s Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies, which will host the event as well. 

Ancient Judaism encompasses a large body of textual and material culture, spanning from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE and crossing vast empires (Persian, Greek, Roman, Parthian, Sasanian, and early Byzantine). Because of the diversity within Ancient Judaism, its study is necessarily interdisciplinary, incorporating the precision of philology and the theories and methods of history, religion, anthropology, and sociology, among other disciplines. By creating a supportive space for student mentorship and academic networking, Penn and other partnering institutions of the Ancient Judaism Regional Seminar aim to give the next generation of scholars in Jewish Studies the tools necessary to launch their careers and to further research in the field of Ancient Judaism. In the process, we hope to bring specialists in Second Temple Judaism and specialists in Rabbinic and late antique Judaism into further conversation with one another and to enhance the place of Ancient Judaism within Jewish Studies.

Organizers: Alex Ramos, Annette Yoshiko Reed, and Jill Stinchcomb 



(Attendance is limited to participants and invitees; if you are interested in attending please contact the organizers)

Sunday, March 6

11:30–12:30: Welcome and Brunch

12:30–12:45: Opening Remarks: Annette Yoshiko Reed (Penn), Alex Ramos (Penn), and Jill Stinchcomb (Penn)


12:45–2:45: Session 1Chair: Seth Schwartz (Columbia)

Jae Han (Penn), “The Rhetoric of Torah in Hekhalot Rabbati”   

Nathan Schumer (Columbia), “Augustus’ Libation Bowls, Herod’s Eagle, and Nicanor’s Gate: Reading the Jerusalem Temple as a Commemorative Site”                                   

Shuli Shinnar (Columbia), “Rabbinic Epistemology and the Greco-Roman Medical Sects: An Analysis of Rabbinic Practices for Examining Parturient Tissue”                          

Respondent: Christine Hayes (Yale)                                           


2:45–3:00: Coffee Break


3:00–5:00: Session 2Chair: Julia Wilker (Penn)

AJ Berkovitz (Princeton), “Psalm 29 in Tannaitic Midrash: A Discourse on the Limits of  Revelation”                                

Rachel Rosenthal (JTS), “Killing by Implication: The Rabbinic Creation of the רודף    ”       

Matthew Goldstone (NYU), “To Rebuke or Not to Rebuke? Between the Bavli and the Tanḥuma”  

 Respondent: Azzan Yadin-Israel (Rutgers)


5:00–5:15: Coffee Break


5:15–6:30: Lightning RoundChair: Annette Yoshiko Reed (Penn)

Yaakov Taubes (Yeshiva/Penn Hillel), Matthew Chalmers (Penn), Rebecca Kamholz (Yale), James Nati (Yale), M Tong (Fordham)                                                                    

Monday, March 7

9:00–10:00: Breakfast 


10:00–12:00: Session 3 Chair: Talya Fishman (Penn)

Zach Levine (NYU), “Chastisement History as a Process of Refinement: How Jubilees 1 Uses Leviticus 26 to Establish the Purpose and Setting of the Book of Jubilees”                

Alex Ramos (Penn), “Cultivating Piety: Mosaic Laws and Their Role in an Agrarian Economy”

Shlomo Zuckier (Yale), “Sacrificial Atonement: Blood Manipulation and Priestly Flesh Consumption”

Respondent: Martha Himmelfarb (Princeton)  


12:00–1:00: Lunch 


1:00–2:30: Professionalization Session: PedagogySteve Weitzman (Katz Center/Penn)


2:30–3:00: Closing Remarks/Planning for 2017


Event Date: 
Sunday, March 06, 2016 (All day) - Monday, March 07, 2016 (All day)
Event Location: 

Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies