Upcoming Events

Harvard-Münster Workshop “Text and Ritual in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism”

Starting from 2022, Profs. Christophe Nihan (Münster) and Julia Rhyder (Harvard) will be holding an annual workshop devoted to researching various aspects of ritual and ritualization and their role in the formation, transmission, and authority of Jewish scriptural traditions in the Second Temple period. From a methodological and theoretical perspective, some basic assumptions underlying the workshop can be summarized as follows: (1) much of what we call “religion” in antiquity is actually related to ritual and ritualization, whether performed or imagined, or a combination of both; (2) the complex interaction between “text” and “ritual” – texts shaping rituals and rituals shaping texts – while common to the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world, plays a predominant role in the development of ancient Judaism; (3) researching the nexus between “text” and “ritual” in ancient Judaism in its ancient context(s) forces us to question and challenge not only our concepts of ritual but also our concepts of text inherited from 19th-century philology, and therefore has broader implications for the study of textualization and scripturalization in the Second Temple period.

Based on these assumptions, the general aim of the Workshop will be to examine or reexamine key aspects of the relationship between text and ritual in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple literature, by combining and contrasting (a) ancient Jewish sources on rituals and ritualization (mainly textual, but taking also into account archaeological evidence when relevant); (b) contemporary theories on ritual and ritualization; and (c) comparative evidence from ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern contexts. Pursuing this aim necessitates a team-based, interdisciplinary approach, which is why we adopted the format of the workshop outlined below. Specifically, the workshop will pursue the following goals:

(1) to lay the foundations for an international collaboration on the topic of the relationship between “text” and “ritual” in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism;

(2) to develop a methodological and theoretical framework where all sorts of evidence concerning “text” and “ritual” in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism can be collected, analyzed, and confronted with current theories on ritual and ritual textualization;

(3) to foster international, trans-disciplinary collaboration and discussion between North American and European scholarly traditions about ancient Israelite and Jewish rituals;

(4) last but not least, to provide a context where young scholars in the fields of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism who are interested in the topic of ritual and ritualization can develop their expertise, acquire new methods, and participate in an international discussion.

The first workshop will take place at Harvard from September 21-22, 2022, with the topic "Biblical sacrifices outside the Pentateuch (Prophets)"