All posts by Rick Bonnie

CSTT and Gender #3: Discussing Gender in the Archaeology of the Classical Periods in Israel/Palestine

by Rick Bonnie

Since the early 1980s, gender research has relatively quickly entered the realm of archaeology and gradually developed into its own subject area in the field.[1] To a large degree, however, this shift first took place in archaeological sub-disciplines far removed, so it seems, from Near Eastern, biblical, or classical archaeology. The latter have only very slowly and unfortunately still rather sparingly introduced research on gender roles and identities. To be sure, the field has developed and improved substantially over the last two decades.[2] This is shown, for instance, by the works of such eminent scholars as Beth Alpert Nakhai, Carol Meyers, and Jennie Ebeling, as well as the substantial scholarly interest in the recent workshops on “Gender, Methodology, and the Ancient Near East” organized by Saana Svärd and Agnes Garcia-Ventura.[3] Continue reading CSTT and Gender #3: Discussing Gender in the Archaeology of the Classical Periods in Israel/Palestine

The Happiness Track in Academia

by Elisa Uusimäki

Dr Emma Seppälä tackles modern myths of success in her recent book The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016). Seppälä’s work is highly relevant for academic communities: she has a PhD in psychology and works as a science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and as a co-director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project. In her book, Seppälä identifies six myths of success that are prevalent in contemporary western culture:

  1. Never stop accomplishing.
  2. You can’t have success without stress.
  3. Persevere at all costs and work to exhaustion.
  4. Focus on your niche: by focusing exclusively on your field and becoming an expert in it, you’ll know how to best solve its problems.
  5. Play to your strengths – do what you do best and stay away from your weak areas.
  6. Look out for yourself and your interests so you can successfully outperform the competitions.

Sounds familiar? Probably, but be critical of such claims. Drawing on recent research in psychology, Seppälä questions the value of these myths. In order to provide a healthy and viable option, she proposes six sustainable keys to happiness and success:

  1. Stop chasing the future and live/work in the present moment: you are most productive (and charismatic) if you focus on the task or conversation at hand.
  2. Step out of overdrive and tap into your resilience: you’ll reduce stress if you train your nervous system to bounce back from setbacks. Thus take a breath and ease into your body.
  3. Manage your stamina and save mental energy by remaining calm and centred instead of engaging in exhausting thoughts and emotions. Do things that make you feel positive, turn what you are doing into something you want to be doing, remember the big picture, practise gratitude, and detach from work when you are not working.
  4. Get more done by doing more or nothing: idleness, fun, and irrelevant interests make you more creative and innovative. They are needed for breakthroughs. Thus diversify your activities, make time for silence, and engage in play.
  5. Enjoy a successful relationship … with yourself. Be good to yourself and avoid excessive self-criticism. We learn from mistakes. Talents and strengths can be developed – the human brain is built to learn new things.
  6. Understand the kindness edge and strengthen your compassion muscle. Self-focus creates blind spots, ruins relationships, makes you weak in the face of failure, and damages health and emotional well-being, while supportive relationships with colleagues increase loyalty and commitment.

Seppälä’s theses are obviously helpful for us in academia who struggle with several on-going projects and whose work is often characterised by the bizarre combination of stress, freedom, and creativity. For us in the humanities, a field that has long been known for solitary work, it is also good to be reminded of the power and beauty of working in a community towards a common goal.

Promootio kokosi huippuyksikköläisiä juhlimaan

Teologisen tiedekunnan tohtoripromootio järjestettiin perjantaina 9.6.2017. Tohtoreiden, kunniatohtoreiden ja 50 vuotta sitten väitelleiden riemutohtoreiden kunniaksi järjestettävä promootio on korkein yliopistollinen juhlatilaisuus. Tänä vuonna promootion juhlallisuutta lisäsivät samaan vuoteen osuneet Suomi 100 -juhlavuosi sekä reformaation 500-vuotismerkkivuosi. Continue reading Promootio kokosi huippuyksikköläisiä juhlimaan

CSTT and Gender #2: A Gender Theory Critique of the Historical-Critical Method

By Francis Borchardt

What in the world does gender have to do with the historical critical method? Because I write in  as the representative of the CSTT’s Team 3 in this forum, I’m expected to somehow connect a discussion of gender with “Literary Criticism in Light of Documented Evidence”. This is not exactly an easy task. Gender is usually thought of as a contextual discussion, and even by gender scholars is conceived as a category that has only entered scholarly and popular consciousness in modern and post modern times. Meanwhile Literar–Kritik, or more broadly, the historical critical method, which encompasses much of what the CSTT’s Team 3 does, makes claims to exist outside of a given context. It is concerned only with revealing the history of the text and behind the text. Or, at least that is how it presents itself. And that is precisely the topic of my discussion. Surprise! I’ve taken an opportunity to turn this into a discussion about methodology. Continue reading CSTT and Gender #2: A Gender Theory Critique of the Historical-Critical Method

CSTT and Gender #1: An Introduction

by Saana Svärd and Hanna Tervanotko

We first got the idea to do something on gender at the 2016 CSTT annual meeting in Saariselkä, where, during the joint sessions, there was some discussion on gender both as an analytical category for research and as a factor in the scholarly community in general. CSTT is a large community and the research topics we operate with resonate only to a certain extent with those of our colleagues. Some of the most fruitful and engaging discussions within the entire group have been those that somehow address philosophy of research and involve everyone. Continue reading CSTT and Gender #1: An Introduction

Vauvoja ja väitöskirjoja

Vuosi 2016 tarjosi huippuyksikössä paitsi tutkimuksen myös perhe-elämän huippukohtia.

Vuonna 2016 huippuyksikön tutkijoiden Katri Antinin, Sanna Saaren ja Miika Tuckerin väitöskirjat jäivät hetkeksi taka-alalle – varsin onnellisista syistä. ”Lapsen saaminen on ollut uskomaton elämys!” kiteyttää Tucker, marraskuussa syntyneen poikavauvan isä. Tuckerin perheen esikoinen on huippuyksikön piirissä viime vuonna syntyneistä vauvoista tuorein. Saaren tytär syntyi maaliskuussa ja Antinin tammikuussa.

Kaikkien kolmen tuoreen vanhemman kokemus on, että lapsen myötä väitöskirjan kirjoittamiseen käytettävä aika on vähentynyt mutta samaan aikaan työskentely on tehostunut. ”Ennen lasta saatoin lukea useamman tunnin kotona töiden jälkeen, mutta nyt se aika kuluu lapsen kanssa ja kotitöiden hoitamisessa”, sanoo Miika Tucker. ”Toisaalta tämä on ainakin jonkin verran patistanut minua käyttämään työaikaani tehokkaammin työpaikalla”, hän pohdiskelee. Myös Katri Antin kokee, että aika on uudessa elämäntilanteessa kortilla. ”Mutta se ei ole ollenkaan huono asia, koska olen mielestäni aikaisempaa keskittyneempi ja tehokkaampi työssäni”, hän toteaa. ”Vaikka keskeneräinen väitöskirja on aina jossain määrin ahdistava asia, nautin nykyään enemmän siitä, että saan istua alas rauhassa ja tehdä jotain keskeytyksettä.”

Katri Antin ja Sanna Saari palasivat kumpikin töihin lapsen ollessa noin vuoden ikäinen. Molemmat ovat hyödyntäneet tutkijan työn mahdollistamia joustoja. Antin ja hänen puolisonsa ovat molemmat osittaisella hoitovapaalla ja työskentelevät vuorotellen. Näin lapsi voi olla vielä kotihoidossa, vaikka molemmat vanhemmat käyvät töissä. Myös Saari ja hänen puolisonsa ovat suunnitelleet työ- ja loma-ajat siten, että lapsi voi olla mahdollisimman pitkään kotona ennen päivähoidon aloittamista. Miika Tuckerin perheessä vanhempainvapaalla on tällä hetkellä Tuckerin puoliso, tutkija hänkin. Lapsen syntymän jälkeen Tucker on ottanut entistä enemmän vastuuta kotitöistä mutta se ei tunnu raskaalta: ”Koen nykyään työpaikalla olemisen hyvänä vaihteluna kotitöihin, joihin kuluu yleensä tunti tai pari aina illalla. Puolisollani ei ole tätä vaihtelun mahdollisuutta samassa määrin mitä minulla, mutta yritän järjestää myös hänelle tilaisuuksia päästä kodin ulkopuolelle harrastamaan”, sanoo Tucker.

Sekä Katri Antin että Sanna Saari korostavat, että vanhempainvapaa toi väitöskirjan tekoon nostetta: ”Motivaatio väitöskirjan tekemiseen kasvoi hurjan paljon kun työ oli vuoden verran taka-alalla. Ehkä sitä alitajuisesti työsti lapsenhoidon lomassa,” pohtii Saari. Miika Tuckerilla ei ole takanaan yhtä pitkää taukoa mutta lapsi toi hänellekin mukanaan uudenlaista kannustetta työhön: ”Lapsen synnyttyä koen, että minulla on suurempi vastuu tukea perhettäni taloudellisesti. Pidän työstäni ja haluan jatkaa tällä alalla, ja se on mahdollista vain, jos hoidan työni mahdollisimman tunnollisesti.”

Työ ja vapaa-aika on kolmikon mielestä nykyisin varsin helppoa erottaa toisistaan: ”Koen, että tutkimuksen tekeminen on minulle lepoa kotona olosta ja kotona olo lasten kanssa on niin kokonaisvaltaista, että työstä tulee levättyä väkisinkin”, sanoo Saari.”On mahdotonta hoitaa taaperoa ja näppäillä tietokonetta samaan aikaan”, kiteyttää puolestaan Antin.

Tutkimustyö on nuorille väitöskirjan tekijöille ehtinyt jo muodostua osaksi omaa identiteettiä. Vanhemmuuden myötä tämä osa minuutta on entistä merkityksellisempi. ”Äidiksi tulemisen myötä tutkijan identiteetistä on tullut eri tavalla tärkeä, sillä tutkimus on elämänalue, joka kuuluu minulle, ja saan toteuttaa tutkijana omia lahjojani ja haaveitani”, toteaa Katri Antin.

Jutun kirjoittajan Hanna Vanosen poika syntyi kesäkuussa 2016.

“Vulnerability and Valour: A Gendered Analysis of Everyday Life in the Dead Sea Scrolls Communities” (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017)

Jessica M. Keady (2017) Vulnerability and Valour: A Gendered Analysis of Everyday Life in the Dead Sea Scrolls Communities. Library of Second Temple Studies 91. London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark.

Jessica M. Keady uses insights from social science and gender theory to shed light on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran communities. Through her analysis, Keady shows that it was not only women who could be viewed as an impure problem, but also that men shared these characteristics as well.

The first framework adopted by Keady is masculinity studies, specifically Raewyn Connell’s hegemonic masculinities, which Keady applies to the Rule of the Community (in its 1QS form) and the War Scroll (in its 1QM form), to demonstrate the vulnerable and uncontrollable aspects of ordinary male impurities. Secondly, the embodied and empowered aspects of impure women are revealed through an application of embodiment theories to selected passages from 4QD (4Q266 and 4Q272) and 4QTohorot A (4Q274). Thirdly, sociological insights from Susie Scott’s understanding of the everyday – through the mundane, the routing and the breaking of rules – reveal how impurity disrupts the constructions of daily life. Keady applies Scott’s three conceptual features for understanding the everyday to the Temple Scroll (11QTa) and the Rule of the Congregation (1QSa) to demonstrate the changing dynamics between ordinary impurity males and impure females.

Underling each of these three points is the premise that gender and purity in the Dead Sea Scrolls communities are performative, dynamic and constantly changing.

To order this book please visit Bloomsbury Publishing.

New book “Sahidic 1 Samuel – A Daughter Version of the Septuagint 1 Reigns” (V&R, 2017)

Elina Perttilä (2017) Sahidic 1 Samuel – A Daughter Version of the Septuagint 1 ReignsDe Septuaginta Investigationes 8. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Elina Perttilä’s study considers the Sahidic version of 1 Samuel as a translation and how it may best be used in Greek textual criticism. The first aim is to examine the translation technique of the Sahidic translator. The second aim is to analyze the affiliations between the Sahidic manuscripts and the affiliations between the Sahidic version and Greek traditions. This translation-technical study will allow a more careful and accurate citation of the Sahidic version within the critical apparatus of the Greek text.

For more information and to order the book, please visit Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Materialising Jewish rituals: an Interview with Rick Bonnie

What is your research about, in general terms?
For my research, I currently examine the impact of ‘materials’ in the development and shaping of Jewish religious rituals during what’s been termed the Late Second Temple period in the region of modern Israel/Palestine, that is, roughly the first century BCE and CE. In particular, I research two material features that were introduced into the region during this period: monumental, stand-alone synagogue buildings used for communal gatherings and domestic stepped pools used for purification rituals. Both aspects were used among Jews already before the first of these manmade structures was built. So, why were these structures introduced and so well spread out across Jewish society during the first century BCE and CE? This is a question that has received rather little attention in scholarship, where the idea often still lingers that a material change has little influence on the institution of synagogues and purity rituals. Societies were understood as ‘floating’ outside of the material world – uninfluenced by the material surroundings they themselves created. So my second research question is how then did the material elements of these synagogue buildings and stepped pools shape (or change) the related Jewish religious rituals?

What have I found out so far? Well, in my research I have emphasized, for example, the irregularity of water in these manmade pools, as during the long, dry summers in the region primary water needs (drinking, washing etc.) would come first. This raises the question if people would have shared these pools during such occasions, or whether the tradition of water purification was perhaps altered during such extreme periods, perhaps by simply pouring a smaller amount of ‘pure’ water over one’s body. I’ve also focused on how the standing water in these stepped pools would become dirty and unhealthy over time. With regard to the stand-alone synagogues, the main observation I have made so far is that they were not as ‘public’ as previously assumed. They are nothing like the later synagogues, built during the third to sixth centuries (or our current churches), with their large, grotesque doors (sometimes more than one) and monumental façades inviting the congregation to gather. Instead, the façade of these early synagogues was usually rather unimpressive and, due to a lack of decoration, would have blended in with the larger village surroundings in which it stood. Its door (usually not more than one) was more narrow and usually did not provide a direct line of sight into the main congregation hall of the synagogue. These observations fit well with earlier research that showed that only a rather small percentage (ca. 10-20%) of a town’s population would fit in these buildings. This evidence hints toward a split community to some degree: those who made the decisions and discussing town politics, and those who did not. There appears thus to have been a more significant social segregation in these communities than there was later on, when all people were invited to participate in the congregation.

Why particularly did you choose this topic?
I first came to this topic through my doctoral research at the University of Leuven, in Belgium. There I focused on the socio-cultural development of Galilee in the second century CE. To study this development, I also needed to contrast the period in question with what came before, so the first centuries BCE and CE. Doing so, I felt a kind of unease with the broad claims that were made in some studies about certain ‘traditional’ material elements used by Jews, such as stepped pools and synagogues. In many cases, it felt that these claims were more based on their particular understanding of the texts than on the actual archaeological remains. Why was no one bothered by the fact that the distribution of the archaeological phenomena is so uneven at times. To give one example, we have various homes in Sepphoris with more than one stepped pool, while in others none were found. Clearly there is something going on here in terms of economic, social, cultural, or religious differentiation between these homes which we cannot really put our finger yet on.

How would you describe the relevance of your work for society?
I have been struggling with this question for as long as I’ve been doing archaeology. Surely there is a certain societal relevance to my work, but it is not as straightforward and as easy to pin down as, for instance, medical research with the potential of saving babies’ lives. Yet, often it gets forgotten that in those fields, the role of the individual researcher is rather minor – only a small block in a long chain of research toward the actual societal result. The individuality of humanities research often makes the public—and even the researchers themselves—forget about their longer research chain and its societal results (and, thus, relevance). It is this, I think, that has led to the more recent criticism levelled against humanities research—the larger picture and relevance often gets lost. This is why being part of the CSTT is such a great experience—you feel the larger relevance of the centre, as well as that of your own research.

My archaeological research will not be of direct, physical relevance to the person on the street. However, the material emphasis in my study shifts the balance toward the everyday aspects not usually given attention in history books or textual sources, yet which of course played important roles in the community at that time and, as a result, was of significant influence to society. Moreover, archaeology’s concern with ‘context’ provides an opportunity to balance people’s black-and-white views on ancient as well as recent events. The strong partition in society that has grown so clearly over the last decade (producing extremists, nationalists, etc.) is often due to a lack of understanding of contextual information. In our globalized world with more information coming toward us than ever before, clarifying context is crucial.

Which archaeological find, of all those you’ve been a part of, was most exciting to you?  Why?
I must confess, and this may sound odd, that I don’t have a particular find that has excited me the most. To be sure, last year’s mosaic floor at Horvat Kur was a very nice find. It hits a certain emotional level, as the inscription on it mentions the first known name of a person (Yudan bar Susu) to possibly have lived in this village in antiquity. It brings you closer to the actual people who lived here. Even the name of our site, ‘Horvat Kur’, is a modern one and we have no idea how the place was called in antiquity. But I cannot say that this personally was my most exciting find. Perhaps this sounds strange, but it is not the finds that excite me so much about archaeology. This is simply a consequence of the particular location where one digs—there’s more luck than skill in finding something spectacular.

Instead, I get more excited about the knowledge one is able to retrieve from a particular find, whatever it may be: a potsherd, a roof tile fragment, or a soil sample. This knowledge is not inherent in the find itself, but derives from the context where it was found. Perhaps the most exciting finds are the roof tile fragments found at Horvat Kur. Roof tiles? That sounds so dull! That may be, but petrographic research by our Horvat Kur team has shown that a considerable number of them were produced in the region of Cilicia, in south-west Turkey. The fact that a normal, small village in rural eastern Galilee used roof tiles made some 1000 km away shows how well-connected the Roman and Byzantine Empires were.

Is there anything you’ve researched that you never thought you’d find yourself interested in?
Well, this question fits my entire career in a way. It was never my plan to focus my research on Jewish and biblical history, let alone be physically working in a Biblical Studies department. It’s mainly my interest in research as such that brought me here, not the particular subjects themselves. I hold a (perhaps too) wide interest in archaeology, ranging from archaeological theory, ethics and the history of archaeology, to cultural heritage management and materials science. A mentor of mine in Leiden University, first enticed my interest in Roman archaeology, the cultural image of ‘Rome’ and its interaction with native subjects. The Roman Empire interests me, in part, because of how the West leans in its values and politics on Rome’s heritage, though I should say on their interpretation of this heritage. For my undergraduate thesis, I chose in 2005/6 one particular region to examine its cultural exchange with ‘Rome’. This became Galilee, in Israel. The initial topic turned out to be a bit larger than I expected… and, yes, I’m still working on it ten years later!

What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m quite excited about plaster… especially the plaster that was used for the stepped pools in order to avoid seepage losses. I am currently planning to do a short field season with colleagues this summer to visit some sites and to analyze the plaster of some stepped pools there. I hope this investigation will show more regarding how it was made, where its natural components originated from, and perhaps if it can tell us something about the water that was held in these pools. Also we’re planning to build some digital 3D models of these pools using photogrammetry. We then can use these digital models for simulating the water level fluctuation in these pools based on paleo-climatic evidence.

Interview conducted by Helen Dixon