Category Archives: Events

Upcoming Lecture: “Di­a­spora Na­tion; or, What is the Jews?” and Workshop on Gender and Religious Identity

You may be interested in the following upcoming public  Collegium Lecture in Helsinki at the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies. The theme of the lecture is very much relevant also to CSTT related research.

“Di­a­spora Na­tion; or, What is the Jews?” by Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and rhetoric, UC Berkeley.

Time: Monday, May 27 at 5 pm (with re­cep­tion)

Venue: Uni­versity of Helsinki Main Build­ing, Small Hall (Fa­bi­aninkatu 33, 4th floor)

De­scrip­tion:

In this lecture, I will contend that the binary opposition: The Jews is a religion/The Jews is a nation is based on a false dichotomy. It is further flawed by the assumption that nation is tantamount to nation-state such that only the option “religion” constitutes an oppositional position vis-a-vis a Jewish nation state. I will discuss scholarship that proves definitively that many–if not most–early Zionist political thought did not involve the building of a state. The bulk of the lecture will outline the idea of a Diaspora Nation as the once and (possible) future for the continued existence of the Jews.

For more information about the event and the speaker, visit the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies website.

Workshop: Gender and Religious Identity

There will also be a workshop before the lecture on May 27 organized in honour of the visit by Boyarin. The theme is Gender and Religious Identity, and speakers include Martti Nissinen, Saana Svärd, Outi Lehtipuu, and many others. The workshop is open for all: for more information click here.

The Program of the Workshop:

9.00: Martti Nissinen, HY: The Agency of the Female Prophets of the Hebrew Bible: Independent or Instrumental? Prophetic or Political?

9.30: Saana Svärd, HY: Studying Gender in the Ancient Near East

10.00: Outi Lehtipuu, HY: “No Male and Female”: Gender and the Rhetoric of Recognition in Early Christianity

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00: Susanna Asikainen, HY: Investigating Emphasized Femininities in the Rewritten Biblical Narratives

11.30: Katharina Keim, Lund: Women and Gender in Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer

12.00-13.00: Lunch break

13.00-1530: Re­li­gious iden­tity ses­sion

13.00: Antti Vanhoja & Nina Nikki, HY: Paulinism and Anti-Paulinism: Cultural Evolutionary Perspectives

13.30: Pekka Lindqvist, ÅA: Confrontations and Exegesis in Early Judaism

14.00-14.30: Coffee break

14.30: Maijastina Kahlos, HY: Pagans, Heretics, or Sorcerers? Labels and Identities in Local Religion in the Fifth Century CE

15.00: Riikka Tuori, HY: Karaite Identity in Early Modern Europe

 

The cover picture is from the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv – en:Beit Hatefutsot. Exhibit showing “One culture:Many facets. The growth of pluralism in modern jewish spiritual life.” By Sodabottle / Wikimedia Commons.

Call For Pa­per: Liv­ing Communities and Their Archaeologies, Helsinki, 12–14 Sept. 2019

We are happy to announce the Call for Papers for the “Living Communities and Their Archaeologies: From the Middle East to the Nordic Countries” conference (LiveArch2019), hosted at the University of Helsinki, from Thursday 12 September to Saturday 14 September 2019.

It is our pleasure to announce that the following keynote speakers: Shatha Abu Khafajah (Hashemite University), Tawfiq Da’adli (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Paula Kouki (Director of Cultural services, Museums and Events, Town of Hamina, Finland), and Gabriel Moshenska (University College London)

Paper proposals can now be submitted via the EasyChair CFP platform: https://easychair.org/cfp/LiveArch2019. Please note that the deadline for submission is 30 April 2019.

The “Living Communities and Their Archaeologies” conference welcomes presentations addressing the fundamental issue of what we understand as “community archaeology”. This seemingly simple question refers both to the “communities” and the “archaeologies” concerned, and to the interrelations between them. Which communities are we addressing when doing community archaeology (and which are ignored)? What approaches to archaeology do we employ? Is it only excavation, does community archaeology end when the excavation season is over? How do we affect the community in which (or with which) we work? How does the community affect us, the archaeologists? And how can we measure and explain success or failure of “community archaeology” projects?

These questions are still to be expanded upon within the contexts of Middle Eastern archaeology and archaeology in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The aim of this conference is to think critically about relationships between communities and archaeologies theoretically as well as by discussing practical cases from cultures that are quite different from each other.

We especially welcome paper proposals that focus on the following themes within the geographical contexts of the Middle East and/or the Nordic and Baltic countries:

  • Defining and reflecting on “community” in community archaeology;
  • Archaeologists as a community in themselves;
  • Which archaeologies to employ in community archaeology;
  • Measuring the success and failure of community archaeology.

We are happy to emphasise that accommodation cost for the full duration of the conference will be covered by the organisers for all presenters whose papers are selected.

More information about the conference can be found on our website: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/conferences/living-communities-and-their-archaeologies

Organizers: Rick Bonnie, Suzie Thomas, Raz Kletter, and Marta Lorenzon

Photo courtesy of G. Sulymani.

Call for papers – The Strange and the Familiar: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East (Helsinki)

The call for papers for the conference “The Strange and the Familiar: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East”, University of Helsinki, August 22-29 (2019) is now open!

This conference analyzes the interaction of identity and empire in the ancient Near East during the second and first millennia BCE. Identity is often created through contrast with the foreign or unfamiliar, and this conference considers how the frontier and the lands and peoples beyond it could be used as that marker of “otherness” necessary for identity construction. Empires could, and did, alter the identity of the areas and peoples under their imperial dominion, but they did not emerge from such new encounters completely unchanged. Instead, interaction with the other can similarly alter the identity of the imperialists.

It centers on such questions as:

  • How do empires construct their own internal and external identity?
  • How are the borders of empire constructed and defined? How may a border be considered not only geographically, but also culturally, legally, and politically?
  • How is the foreign ‘othered’ within the space of empire? How are the inhabitants of conquered territories assimilated by empire? Alternatively, how do they maintain their own unique identity
    under empire?
  • What mechanics of power are employed by the empire to control its more peripheral regions? How is this control represented across textual genres?
  • How can we trace the impact of empire in the areas under imperial control? What can other avenues of evidence, such as archaeological and material finds, tell us about the influence of empire on identity?

The conference invites papers that consider such questions, as well as the more general topic of identity and empire, in the context of the areas that lie within the broad heading of the ancient Near East. This includes papers that examine empire in the context of Assyria and Babylonia; the interactions between Mesopotamia and Egypt; connections between Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Eastern Mediterranean; and the impact of empire on the historical context of the Hebrew Bible. Papers may evaluate the conference topic from the perspective of textual, archaeological, or art historical methods, and papers combining such approaches, or integrating anthropological or sociological methodologies, are particularly welcome.

Funding has been secured to cover the cost of housing for conference speakers, with further funds dedicated to defray, if not entirely cover, the cost of travel to Finland. The organizers welcome proposals from scholars outside of Europe, but regret that the available funding may not be able to fully cover the cost of transatlantic or similarly long-distance flights. This conference is hosted by the University of Helsinki Center of Excellence: Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions; the Center of Excellence: Ancient Near Eastern Empires, and the Finnish Institute for the Middle East.

Paper proposals of up to 350 words should be sent to Gina Konstantopoulos (gina.konstantopoulos@helsinki.fi) by March 15 2019. Any questions may also be sent to Gina Konstantopoulos.

Workshop: “Global and Local Cultures in the Roman East” (Helsinki, 28-30 Nov 2018)

Workshop:  Global and Local Cultures in the Roman East: From Domination to Interaction

Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, 28–30 November 2018

The workshop is organized by the Globalization, Urbanization and Urban Religion in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Roman and Early Islamic period workshop series, funded by The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki.

The workshop is the first in a series of three workshops organized jointly by the University of Helsinki (Raimo Hakola, Rick Bonnie), Aarhus University (Rubina Raja) and the University of Bergen (Simon Malmberg, Eivind Heldas Seeland).

The program of the workshop can be found using the following link: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/sacredtexts/files/2018/10/Helsinki-workshop_schedules-29102018.pdf.

The workshop is free and open to all. However, we would like participants to register using the following form before November 15: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/93066/lomake.html

For further information about this workshop, please email raimo.hakola@helsinki.fi and/or rick.bonnie@helsinki.fi.

 

 

Kiveen hakattu? Olemme mukana kirjamessuilla uutuuskirjan kera

Miten pyhät tekstit ja perinteet ovat historian saatossa muuttuneet? Huippuyksikömme tutkijoiden kirjoittama uutuskirja valottaa tutkimuksen uusimpia näkökulmia aiheeseen. Martti Nissisen ja Leena Vähäkylän toimittama Kiveen hakattu? Pyhät tekstit ja perinteet muutoksessa (Gaudeamus, 2018) julkaistaan virallisesti Helsingin Kirjamessuilla torstaina 25.10. klo. 15:30.

Messuilla Martti NissinenKatja Kujanpää ja Leena Vähäkylä esittelevät kirjan teemoja ja keskustelevat pyhien tekstien ja perinteiden muuttumisesta.

Uutuuskirja kuuluu Suomen Akatemian Tutkitusti-sarjaan. Alla on kirjan kuvausteksti kustantajan verkkosivuilta:

“Tulipalo tuhoaa kaupungin, kivenhakkaajan taltta lipsahtaa, käsikirjoituksen jäljentäjä tekee kynttilänsä valossa kirjoitusvirheen, paperi rasahtaa rikki terävän mustekynän alla.

Pyhät tekstit eivät ole ajan hampaalta ja inhimillisiltä erheiltä suojattuja sen paremmin kuin maallisetkaan hengentuotteet, vaikka Raamattuun ja vanhoihin traditioihin usein liitetään ajatus juuri muuttumattomuudesta.

Tekstit ja perinteet elävät jatkuvasti, toisinaan myös tietoisen valinnan seurauksena: esimerkiksi Paavali siteeraa Vanhan testamentin tekstejä omaan retoriikkaansa sopivasti, ei välttämättä sanatarkasti. Tekstien muutoksiin ovat vaikuttaneet myös kulttuuriset ja yhteiskunnalliset muutokset, esimerkiksi väestönsiirrot, kaupunkien tuhoutumiset sekä erilaisten kulttuuriperinteiden kohtaamiset ja sulautumiset.

Kiveen hakattu? raottaa pyhien tekstien historiaa ja teksteihin tehtyjä perusteltuja ja dokumentoituja muutoksia vieden samalla pohjaa fundamentalismilta. Esimerkiksi Raamatun muuttumattomuus on illuusio: vanhat käsikirjoitukset ovat aina olleet erilaisia sekä kokoonpanoltaan että sisällöltään. Muinaiset tekstit ovat suodattuneet meidän aikaamme lukuisten kirjureiden ja kääntäjien kätten kautta.”

Kirjan voi ostaa kirjamessuilta tai tilata itselleen kustantajan verkkosivuilta.

Moments fom EABS Annual Conference / SBL International Meeting 2018 in Helsinki

The EABS Annual Conference / SBL International Meeting was organized successfully at the University of Helsinki on July 30th – August 3rd, 2018. As many as 1043 researchers from over 50 different countries took part in the diverse meeting.

CSTT took actively part in the preparations of the conference and our researchers presented widely in different sessions. Below are some moments from the wonderful meeting. The pictures were taken by Lauri Laine from team 1. More pictures can be found here.

Outi Lehtipuu, the chair of the local organizing committee, welcoming people at the opening session. Picture by Lauri Laine.

 

EABS Executive officer Dominika Kurek-Chomycz giving greetings from the EABS to the joint meeting. Picture by Lauri Laine.

 

The opening session ended with a panel discussion “What I would like to see happen in biblical studied?” The panel was chaired by CSTT leader Martti Nissinen and the other participants were Jutta Jokiranta (team 4), Ismo Dunderberg, Siiri Toiviainen and Rick Bonnie (team 4). Picture by Lauri Laine.

 

The plenary sessions took place at the Think Corner of the University. In the picture, Raija Sollamo and Antti Marjanen reflect on their career. Interview conducted by Cecilia Wassén, with an introduction by Marianne Bjelland Kartzow. Picture by Lauri Laine.

 

A magnificent cultural event, concert at the famous rock church, took place on Thursday evening. The concert was sponsored by CSTT. Picture by Lauri Laine.

Welcome to Helsinki! A List of CSTT Contributions to the EABS/ISBL Meeting

In only two weeks, hundreds of biblical scholars will gather in Helsinki to attend the combined meetings of the European Association of Biblical Studies (EABS) and the International meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), which takes place from 31 July to 3 August.

As the meetings are held in our hometown, we hope to showcase to you all the diverse and wide range of research the CSTT is currently engaged in. To make your conference experience easier, we have brought together all contributions by our research centre to this year’s EABS/ISBL meeting.

The contributions are grouped under four headings corresponding to the different research teams in our centre. The list includes contributions from our full and associate members. You can find the abstracts of the papers and more information on the sessions by using the excellent online program book.

We warmly welcome you all to lovely Helsinki!


TEAM 1. Society and Religion in the Ancient Near East

July 30 – 16:00–17:30
CSTT-director Martti Nissinen: Presiding in panel discussion “What I Would Like to See Happening in Biblical Studies,” in Opening Session

Aug 1 – 14:00 – 17:00
Martti Nissinen: Presiding, in themed-session “Timo Veijola’s Contribution to Biblical Studies,” in Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible in light of Empirical Evidence (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Martti Nissinen: “Why Prophets Are (Not) Shamans,” in themed-session “Shamanism in the Bible and Cognate Literature” in Anthropology and the Bible (EABS)

July 31 – 9:00–11:00
Izaak J. de Hulster: “Hermeneutical Reflections on a Recently Excavated Cylinder Seal Fragment from Abel-beth-maacah,” in Iconography and Biblical Studies (EABS)

July 31 – 14:00–17:00
Izaak J. de Hulster: Presiding, in Iconography and Biblical Studies (EABS)

Aug 2 – 9:00–11:00
Izaak J. de Hulster: “Predecessors of Hilma Granqvist: Women Exploring the Land(s) of the Bible before 1920,” in themed-session “Holy Land Explorers: In Recognition of Hilma Granqvist” inHistory of Biblical Scholarship in the Late Modern Period

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Jason Silverman: “Imperium as Context for Defining “Elite”: Persians and Yahwistic Socio-economic Structure,” in themed-session “Elite Cultures and Achaemenid Koine” inJudaeans in the Persian Empire (EABS)

Aug 2 – 9:00–11:00
Kirsi Valkama: “Aapeli Saarisalo and Biblical Archaeology” in themed-session “Holy Land Explorers: In Recognition of Hilma Granqvist” inHistory of Biblical Scholarship in the Late Modern Period

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Kirsi Valkama and Rick Bonnie: Presiding, in Archaeology and the Biblical World

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:30
Joanna Töyräänvuori: “The Ambiguity and Liminality of the Mediterranean Sea in Ancient Semitic Mythology,” in Ugarit and the Bible: Life and Death (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Gina Konstantopoulos: Presiding, in Dispelling Demons: Interpretations of Evil and Exorcism in Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish and Biblical Contexts (EABS)

July 31 – 14:00–17:30
ShanaZaia: “‘My Brothers Were Plotting Evil’: Family Violence in the Ancient Near East,” in Families and Children in the Ancient World

July 31 – 14:00–17:30
Sebastian Fink: “Visual Poetry in Sumerian Lamentations: A Diachronic View,” inDiachronic Poetology of the Hebrew Bible and Related Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Jewish Literature (EABS)

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:30
Sebastian Fink: “Entering and Leaving This World: Birth and Death in Mesopotamia,” inUgarit and the Bible: Life and Death (EABS)

Aug 3 – 9:00–10:30
Andres Nõmmik: “A Consideration of the City-States of the Late Bronze Age Southern Levant,” in Ancient Near East

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:30
Patrik Jansson: “Prophesying and Twisting: Exploring the Metaphorical Description of Prophesying Women in the Greek Text of Ezekiel 13:17–23,”in Metaphor in the Bible (EABS)

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:30
Lauri Laine: “What God Should Not Be, but Still Somehow Is? Cognitive Perspectives on ‘Theological Incorrectness’,” inWhat a God is Not – the Early History of Negative Theology (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00–15:30
Helen Dixon(Wofford College): “Sign, Performance, Possession, Home: What Are Non-royal Phoenician Mortuary Stelae Doing?” in themed-session “Texts in Space” in Ancient Near East


TEAM 2. Text and Authority

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Team 2 leader Anneli Aejmelaeus: “Re-linking 1 Sam 3 and 4,” inSeptuagint of Historical Books (EABS)

Aug 1 – 9:00–11:00
Tuukka Kauhanen: Presiding, in themed-session “Septuagint Syntax” in Septuagint Studies

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Tuukka Kauhanen: “Editing the Septuagint of 2 Samuel,”in Septuagint of Historical Books (EABS)

July 31 – 16:00–17:30
Katja Kujanpää: “Job or Isaiah? What Does Paul Quote in Rom 11:35?” in themed-session “Textual History”, in Septuagint Studies

Aug 2 – 16:00–17:30
Jessi Orpana: Presiding, in themed-session “History, Kingship and the Economy” in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Paavo Huotari: “Characteristics of the Lucianic Reviser in 2 Samuel,” in Septuagint of Historical Books (EABS)

July 31 – 16:00–17:30
Miika Tucker:“Continuity and Change: A Historical Perspective on the Assessment of Septuagint Jeremiah as a Textual Witness,”in themed-session “Textual History” in Septuagint Studies


TEAM 3. Literary Criticism in the Light of Documented Evidence

Aug 1 – 9:00–11:00
Team 3 leader Juha Pakkala: Presiding, in themed-session “Evoking Coherence in Redactional Processes of Fortschreibung and in Re-writing Biblical Texts” in Developing Exegetical Methods (EABS)

Aug 1 – 9:00–11:00
Mika Pajunen: “The Functions of Extensive Psalms and Prayers in Narrative Contexts,”in themed-session “Evoking Coherence in Redactional Processes of Fortschreibung and in Re-writing Biblical Texts” inDeveloping Exegetical Methods (EABS)

Aug 2 – 9:00–11:00
Ville Mäkipelto: Presiding, in themed-session “Translation Technique and Revisions” in Septuagint of Historical Books (EABS)

Aug 2 – 9:00–11:00
Ville Mäkipelto: Presiding, in themed-session “Joshua 8 – Literary Development in Light of Text, Literary, and Redaction Critical Perspectives” in Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible in light of Empirical Evidence (EABS)

Aug 2 – 9:00 – 11:30
Timo Tekoniemi: Presiding, in themed-session “Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible” in Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible in Light of Empirical Evidence (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00 – 17:30
Timo Tekoniemi: Presiding, in themed-session “Textual Criticism” in Septuagint of Historical Books (EABS)

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:00
Reinhard Müller(Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster): “Timo Veijola’s Commentary on Deuteronomy,” in themed-session: “Timo Veijola’s Contribution to Biblical Studies” in Editorial Techniques in the Hebrew Bible in light of Empirical Evidence (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:00
Reinhard Müller (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster):“Eckart Otto’s Models of ‘Urdeuteronomium’ and Deuteronomistic Deuteronomy,” in themed-session: “Eckart Otto’s Commentary on Deuteronomy” in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law

July 31 – 14:00–17:30
Urmas Nõmmik: “Changes in Form and Genre: Five Research Questions,” inDiachronic Poetology of the Hebrew Bible and Related Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Jewish Literature (EABS)

Aug 1 – 9:00–11:00
Anssi Voitila(University of Eastern Finland): “Usage-Based Translation Syntax of the Septuagint,”in themed-session “Septuagint Syntax” in Septuagint Studies

Aug 3 – 9:00–10:30
Anssi Voitila (University of Eastern Finland): Presiding, in themed-session “Interpretation” in Septuagint Studies


TEAM 4. Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism

July 30 – 16:00–17:30
Team 4 leader Jutta Jokiranta: Member in panel discussion “What I Would Like to See Happening in Biblical Studies,” in Opening Session

July 31 – 14:00–17:30
Matthew Goff (Florida State University) and Jutta Jokiranta:“Survey Results on Ethics and Policies Regarding Unprovenanced Materials” in themed-session “Ethics and Policies Regarding Unprovenanced Materials” inQumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Aug 1 – 9:00–11:00
Jutta Jokiranta: Presiding, in themed-session “Ritual and Qumran” in Ritual in the Biblical World

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Raimo Hakola:“The Ancient Synagogue at Horvat Kur, Galilee: Excavations 2010-2018,” in Archaeology and the Biblical World

July 30 – 16:00–17:30
Rick Bonnie: Member in panel discussion “What I Would Like to See Happening in Biblical Studies,” in Opening Session

July 31 – 14:00–17:30
Rick Bonnie: ”Researching Cultural Objects and Manuscripts in a Small Country: The Finnish Experience of Raising Awareness of Provenance, Legality, and Responsible Stewardship,” in themed-session “Ethics and Policies Regarding Unprovenanced Materials” in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Aug 1 – 9:00–10:30
Elisa Uusimäki: Presiding, in themed-session “Gendered Virtue?” in Virtue In Biblical Literature (EABS)

Aug 1 – 16:00–17:30
Charlotte Hempel (University of Birmingham) and Elisa Uusimäki: Presiding, Early Career Development Workshop

Aug 2 – 9:00–11:00
Elisa Uusimäki: “Is There ‘Virtue’ in Semitic texts? An Analysis of the Testament of Qahat,” in themed-session “Is there Virtue in Semitic texts?” in Virtue In Biblical Literature (EABS)

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Elisa Uusimäki: Presiding, in themed-session “Portraying Virtue” inVirtue In Biblical Literature (EABS)

Aug 3 – 9:00–11:00
Elisa Uusimäki: Presiding, in themed-session “Open Session” in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Aug 1 – 14:00–17:30
Katri Antin:“Intellectual Illumination as a Visionary Experience,” in themed-session “Visions and aspects of Spatial Theory – Focus OT” in Vision and Envisionment in the Bible and its World (EABS)

Aug 3 – 9:00–11:00
Katri Antin:“Implicit Exegesis as a Mean of Transmitting Divine Knowledge in the Thanksgiving Psalms,”in themed-session “Open Session” in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Aug 1 – 16:00–17:30
Hanna Tervanotko: Member in panel discussion “Teaching Gender and the Bible,” in Status of Women in the Profession

Aug 2 – 14:00–17:30
Hanna Tervanotko: “Reading 1 Samuel 28 and Odyssey 11 through the Lens of Shamanism,” in themed-session “Shamanism in the Bible and Cognate Literature” inAnthropology and the Bible (EABS)

Aug 1 – 14:00–15:30
Sami Yli-Karjanmaa: “Philo’s Reincarnational Anthropology: A Comparison with Clement,” in themed-session “Philo of Alexandria” in Judaica

Aug 3 – 9:00–11:15
Hanna Vanonen: “Apocalyptic Vision or Ritual Instructions? The Qumran War Texts as Apocalyptic Literature,” in themed-session “Apocalyptic Literature: Second Temple Judaism” in Apocalyptic Literature

What has Tbilisi to Do with Helsinki?

By Jutta Jokiranta.

Georgia (Tbilisi) and Finland (Helsinki) have a lot in common, we discovered when CSTT members spent a successful week in Tbilisi Javakhishvili University. People in both countries speak a strange language, their number is around 5 million, and both countries have gained independence a hundred years ago (Finland in 1917, Georgia for a short period in 1918).

Tbilis as seen from the hill of the Mtatsminda Pantheon (picture by Ville Mäkipelto).

CSTT is about “cross-fertilization,” making scholars from different fields and areas of expertise to communicate and learn from each other. This was a specific purpose of the Tbilisi meeting, “Texts, Traditions and Transmission: Global and Local Transitions in the Late Second Temple Period,” 21‒25 May 2018, organized by CSTT Teams 2 and 4, in cooperation with local hosts in Tbilisi, especially Anna Kharanauli, Natia Mirotadze, and their students.

The aim of the symposium was to find points in common in the study of the history of the Second Temple period—the scribal milieu—and the study of scribal revisions of scriptural texts and traditions.

Picture by Ville Mäkipelto

Did we find points in contact? To give an example, special interest was on the so-called kaige-recension, in which the translators at the turn of the era brought the original text of the Septuagint into closer conformity with the Hebrew proto-Masoretic text. Anneli Aejmelaeus explored its origins and suggested tracing it to Greek speaking synagogues in Palestine. Rick Bonnie gave an overview of early synagogue finds in Palestine and showed how their architecture could be characterized by restricted access and private visibility; these buildings were used by only part of the village population. Raimo Hakola reassessed the evidence for the assumed village scribes in Galilee behind the Q-document that Matthew and Luke used, and identified a more likely home place for them in the Judean setting.

Keynotes from outside CSTT were Catherine Hezser and Mladen Popović. Hezser challenged us to think in more precise terms about scribes who were craftsmen and sages who were learned writers of literary texts. Popović presented a model of “book publishing” in the ancient world and compared the Dead Sea Scrolls scribes to Roman literati and reading communities.

The 9th/10th century three-nave basilica in Uplistsikhe (picture by Ville Mäkipelto).

The meeting organization was exceptional as CSTT members prepared to the meeting in a brainstorming session already in the spring. This was worthwhile as communication took place “behind the scenes” outside the meeting too. The organizers, Raimo Hakola, Paavo Huotari, and Jessi Orpana are now planning a publication on the basis of the meeting.   

Georgian scholars have long-standing contacts with Helsinki Septuagint scholars. We also learned from rich Georgian manuscript collections and their research. Inscriptions have been found in Iberia—as the former kingdom in Eastern Georgia was called—in five different languages, Persian, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin.

CSTT director Martti Nissinen exploring the caves of the ancient rock town Uplistsikhe (picture by Ville Mäkipelto).

Two excursion days at several archaeological sites and churches were a true climax for the week. In the end, a visit to the National Museum of Georgia as well as our exquisite evening meal experiences proved that Finland and Georgia are not quite the same: in Georgia, archaeological finds start from early hominids onwards—and fruit and wine do grow better in Georgia.

Exploring a local archaeological site (picture by Ville Mäkipelto).
Enjoying the amazing Georgian food culture (picture by Ville Mäkipelto).

Cel­eb­rat­ing the In­ter­na­tional Wo­men’s Day 2018 with a Wiki­pe­dia edit-a-thon

Text by Katri Rostedt.

On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, the Centres of Excellence ANEE and CSTT co-organized a Wikipedia edit-a-thon with the theme “Women and the Ancient Near East”. The aim was to improve both the Wikipedia pages on female scholars of the ancient Near East and on women in the ancient sources. The event took place in a casual but inspiring atmosphere, and the Wikimedia volunteers provided some editing training for the ones not so familiar with Wikipedia content creating. The event gathered 15 participants, who created in total 4 new Wikipedia articles, edited 9 existing ones, and added 2540 words to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a web-based encyclopedia that is based on the openly editable content. The Wikipedia project is supported by Wikimedia Foundation that owns the Wikipedia.org –domain, and e.g. exercises outreach and controls the servers. The Foundation does not edit the Wikipedia content, though, but the volunteers (that is, anyone with internet access and a Wikipedia username) are taking care of producing and editing texts. Updating and correcting the information on Wikipedia is an easy and effective way to spread rightful knowledge; Wikipedia is a heavily trusted tool among the greater public, pupils, reporters and students.

This is the second time the Wikipedia edit-a-thon event relating to especially women and ancient near east has been organized in Finland, and a similar event was also held at the AAR/SBL annual meeting in Boston in 2017. One of the active persons behind these previous events is ANEE Team 3 vice-leader and CSTT member, Rick Bonnie, who finds these events very effective endeavors for advancing the knowledge both on Wikipedia and the gender gap: “Research has shown that ca. 90 percent of Wikipedia editors are male. This has a profound impact upon what content is being created and updated on Wikipedia. Hence, it is important that we as researchers try to make sure that the content of Wikipedia is not gender biased.”

The event was made successful with the editing training help of Wikimedia Finland volunteers, Heikki Kastemaa and Tia Kangaspunta. Heikki Kastemaa, Chair of Wikimedia Finland, hopes to narrow the gap between reading Wikipedia and actually editing its content:”Editing Wikipedia is easy, you just need a profile in order to do that. You can edit while you read.”

The researchers of ANEE and CSTT urge everyone to organize similar events for their communities. We are also happy to give you some tips, if needed!

Further reads

Article on Wikipedia about gender gap

For more information to get started with Wikipedia editing, look the introduction

Text originally published at the ANEE website.

Visiting lecture by Mark S. Smith: “The Three Bodies of God”

In recent years scholars and non-scholars alike have become interested in biblical references to the body of God. Smith sketches out a typology of three types of divine bodies based on different scales, locations, and settings in the religion of ancient Israel: (1) a natural “human” body; (2) a super-sized “liturgical” body; and (3) a “cosmic” or “mystical” body.

Mark S. Smith is the Helena Professor of Old Testament Language and Exegesis at Princeton Theological Seminary. He specializes in Israelite religion and the Hebrew Bible, as well as the literature and religion of Late Bronze Age Ugarit. He has obtained master’s degrees from Catholic University of America, Harvard University, and Yale University, and PhD at Yale. He has also served as the Skirball Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University, and also taught at Yale and Saint Joseph’s University. A Roman Catholic layman, Smith also served as a visiting professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

The event will be on Wednesday 21.3 at 18:00 in the House of Science and Letters, hall 104 (Kirkkokatu 6, Helsinki).

The lecture will be held in English and is organized by the Finnish Institute in the Middle East. Welcome!

Link to the Facebook event