Yeshiva Talmud Conference and ISAW-NYU Conference

Talmuda de-Eretz Israel (Sunday-Monday, March 27th – 28th, 2011)

An International Conference
Organized by the Center for Israel Studies.
Co-sponsored by the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and YU Museum

Opening Session: Sunday, 1:00 – 2:15 PM

Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street.

Chair: Yaakov Elman, Yeshiva University

Eric Meyers, Duke University
The Use of Archaeology in Understanding Rabbinic Materials:  An Archaeological Perspective

Daniel Sperber, Bar Ilan University
The Use of Archaeology in Understanding Rabbinic Materials:  A Talmudic Perspective

Session 2: Sunday, 2:30 – 5:30 PM
Chair: Richard Hidary, Yeshiva University

Galit Hasan-Rokem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Leviticus Rabbah 16, 1: “Odysseus and the Sirens” in the Beit Leontis Mosaic from Beit She’an

Burton L. Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary
Genesis Rabbah 1,1:  Mosaic Torah as the Blueprint of the Universe– Insights from the Roman World

Alexei Sivertsev, DePaul University
Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 2,6 (20c): The Demise of King Solomon and Roman Imperial Propaganda in Late Antiquity

Laura S. Lieber, Duke University
The Yotzerot le-Hatan of Qallir and Amittai: Jewish Marriage Customs in Early Byzantium

Session 3: Monday, 10:00-11:45 AM

Furst Hall 501, Wilf Campus
185th and Amsterdam Avenue, Wilf Campus

Chair: Alyssa Gray, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Shawn Zelig Aster, Yeshiva University
Mishnah Baba Metzia 7,7 and the Distribution of the Phoenician Jar: The Relationship of Mishnaic Hebrew to Northern Biblical Hebrew and to Phoenician

Jonathan Milgram, Jewish Theological Seminary
Mishnah Baba Batra 8,5: The Transformation of the Firstborn Son from Family Leader to Family Member

Uzi Leibner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mekhilta de-R. Ishmael, Vayehi Beshalah 1: Rabbis and the Jewish Community Revisited

Session 4: Monday, 1:00-3:45

185th and Amsterdam Avenue

Chair: Ozer Glickman, Yeshiva University

Steven Fine, Yeshiva University
Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 4a:  Polychromy and the Jerusalem Temple in Late Antiquity

Sacha Stern, University College London
Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zara 16a:  Paganism in Sepphoris– A Strange Baraita

Steven D. Fraade, Yale University
The Rehov Inscriptions and Rabbinic Literature:  Matters of Language

Rachel Neis, University of Michigan
The Isaiah 66:14 Inscription from Jerusalem and Late Antique Jewish Pilgrimage

Session 5: Monday, 4:00-6:00 PM

185th and Amsterdam Avenue

Chair: Joseph Angel, Yeshiva University

Yonatan Adler, Bar Ilan University
Tosefta Shabbat 1,14:  “Come and See to What Extent Purity has Spread Forth”:   Archaeological Evidence for the Observance of Ritual Purity in Eretz Israel from the Hasmonean Period until the Close of the Palestinian Talmud

Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University and Yeshiva University
Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 1 (71b-72a): “Of the Making of Books”:  Rabbinic Scribal Arts in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Summation. Steven Fine and Aaron Koller, Yeshiva University


Conference: Ancient Jewish Science and the History of Knowledge

Organizers: Jonathan Ben-Dov (University of Haifa and ISAW) and Seth Sanders (Trinity College and ISAW)
Location: 2nd floor lecture Hall
Date: April 4, 2011
Time: 9:00 a.m.

Jews in the Hellenistic-Roman period participated in the international culture in many ways, but the exact sciences are usually not considered to be one of them. There was no ancient Jewish Einstein or Freud, or Archimedes. However, Jewish apocalyptic literature preserved an impressive scientific discipline of astronomy, astrology, and physiognomy, among others. Jews also succeeded in inserting the first ‘Jewish’ scientists, Enoch and Abraham, into the genealogies of knowledge across the ancient world. This impression was strengthened with the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and is becoming increasingly important in recent research. A critical assessment of this tradition reveals the sources of ‘Jewish’ science between Hellenism and the older Mesopotamian science; it raises a new set of questions of the intellectual milieu of Jews in the Second Temple period; it reveals that, like other eastern religions, Judaism was shaped to a great extent by astrology and divination; it necessitates new explanations for the avoidance of scientific themes in rabbinic literature. Finally, it sheds light on varying Jewish approaches to cosmology until the renaissance of Jewish science in medieval times. This conference is thus a rare opportunity to bridge the histories of ancient science with those of later, even early modern traditions.


Jonathan Ben-Dov, organizer (University of Haifa and ISAW)
Anette Yoshiko Reed (Penn University)
Mladen Popovic (Groningen University)
Seth Sanders, organizer (Trinity College and ISAW)
James VanderKam (Notre Dame University)
Alexander Jones (ISAW) – respondent
Lawrence Schiffman (NYU) – chair

RSVP for conference to:

ISAW is located:

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

Telephone: (212) 992-7800
Fax: (212) 992-7809


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