Team 4. Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism

About   |   Members

Team 4 will investigate changes in religious practices and ways of thinking that became more widespread and compelling in the Israelite religion in the Greco-Roman era, especially new ritual practices, dissolution of earlier institutions, new discourse and identity formation, economic and material changes in the changing circumstances. The aim is to address changes during the late Second Temple period in their own right (not only as background for rise of Early Christianity or Rabbinic Judaism) and to investigate the extent to which the practices and beliefs were not only reflecting, but also effecting and contributing to the social changes of the time. The source materials include relevant Hebrew Bible texts, Qumran manuscripts (Dead Sea Scrolls) and discoveries, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Greek textual evidence, as well as archaeological evidence that also illuminates the point of view of popular and every¬day “lived” religion. The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered as reflective of wider Judean literati, not merely a particular socio-religious movement.

Special methodological emphasis is given to finding useful social-scientific approaches in order to learn from other disciplines, to inform distinct areas of study, and help to communicate the results to separate fields. Research will be conducted in the following areas:

(1) Research into changes in rituals and religious practices. The focus is on ritual textual evidence and change (e.g., innovation and additions, ways of transmitting traditions, frequency and arousal, efficacy and meanings) as well as archaeological evidence connected to ritual practices (e.g., miqvaot, synagogues, other material culture). The team will incorporate theories and perspectives from ritual studies and from cognitive science of religion, which is a new emerging field that seeks cross-cultural patterns in religious thought and practice by studying the architecture of human mind. There is need to both analyse new textual evidence on some rituals (e.g., purification, exorcism, vows) and to theorize rituals as action (e.g., what kind of ritual action is purification).

(2) Research into intellectual changes. Texts of the Late Second Temple period testify to tendencies of both fixing the formulations of the divine will and of keeping it spontaneous and unpredictable. The study of such intellectual changes requires careful theorizing on central concepts such as Torah, wisdom, revelation, prophecy, divination, and authority. Special focus will be on investigation into the Greek influence and expression on Jewish writers.



Team Leader
Jutta Jokiranta

Jutta Jokiranta, University lecturer in Old Testament Studies

Project: Ritual and Change in the Qumran Movement and Judaean Society
Expertise: Second Temple Judaism; Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls; Materiality of Texts; Ritual; Cognitive Science of Religion; Sectarianism; Social Identity
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |

Raimo Hakola Raimo Hakola, Senior Member 

Project: Jews, Christians and Hellenistic-Roman Culture in Galilee in the First Century CE: Identity and Economy
Expertise: Gospel of John; Pharisees; Jewish-Christian relations; Galilee; Social Identity Approach
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |   |   ResearchGate

Elisa Uusimäki Elisa Uusimäki, Senior Member

Project: Ancestral Virtue in Early Jewish Literature
Expertise: Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish literature; Wisdom; Early biblical interpretation; Cultural interaction in Mediterranean Antiquity; Virtue ethics
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |
Interview: Antiikin elämäntaitovalmentajien jäljillä: Haastattelussa Elisa Uusimäki

Rick Bonnie

Rick Bonnie, Post-Doctoral Researcher   |    @rickbonnie

Project: Material Religion in Hasmonean-Roman Judaea: Exploring the role of materials and environment in shaping religious practices
Expertise: Archaeology of the Roman Near East; Jewish architecture & material culture; Cross-cultural interaction
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |

Jessica Keady, Post-Doctoral Researcher
Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at UWTSD (Wales)

Project: Constructing Masculinities through the War Scrolls: Gendered Positioning, Performance and the Literary Constructions of Purity in the Qumran Communities
Expertise: Second Temple Judaism; Dead Sea Scrolls; Gender Studies; Positioning Theory; Performance Analysis
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |

Katri Antin Katri Antin, Doctoral Student

Project: Transmission of Divine Knowledge in the Sapiential Thanksgiving Psalms from Qumran
Expertise: Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls; Prophecy/Divination; Late Second Temple Judaism; Hebrew Poetry
Profiles: University of Helsinki   |


Hanna Tervanotko Hanna Tervanotko, Associate Member
Assistant Professor at McMaster University

Project: Revelation by Request: A Comparative Study on Greek and Jewish Diviners
Expertise: Jewish texts of the Second Temple era; Female figures; Prophecy and Prophets; Comparative reading of ancient Jewish and Greek texts; Reception history
Profiles: University of Helsinki | | McMaster University

Sami Yli-Karjanmaa Sami Yli-Karjanmaa, Associate Member

Project: Changes in Jewish Afterlife Beliefs and Identity around the Turn of the Era
Expertise: Philo of Alexandria; Josephus; Clement of Alexandria; Platonism; Afterlife beliefs
Profiles: University of Helsinki |

Hanna Vanonen Hanna Vanonen, Associate Member

Project: Stable and Fluid War Traditions: Re-Thinking the War Text Material from Qumran
Expertise: Second Temple Judaism; Dead Sea Scrolls; Eschatology; Visions of war
Profile: University of Helsinki

Jeremy Penner Jeremy Penner, Associate Member

Project: Changes and Developments in Second Temple Period Worship Practices
Expertise: Dead Sea Scrolls; Myth; Ritual; Liturgy
Profiles: University of Helsinki |


The Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki