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Dr. Hanan Mazeh

Research Interests:

Rabbinic Literature; History - Late Antiquity; Organization of Knowledge; Territory and Territoriality


Hanan Mazeh is a scholar of late-antique Rabbinic Literature. His research explores textual and thematic developments in this corpus as a key to understanding rabbinic society in the first centuries CE within its cultural context. His expertise is the Palestinian Talmud (the Yerushalmi) and its unique texture, and he is especially interested in questions of organization of knowledge, territory and relations between Jews and Gentiles in Roman Palestine.

Mazeh is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Mandel-Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his PhD in Jewish History at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2020. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University (2020-1) and a research fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2021-2) as well as at the New York University School of Law (2022-3). 

Project Abstract

My project examines ways of counting years in rabbinic literature and the synchronization of different numbering systems, as part of the rabbinic community's identity struggle in Roman Palestine. The rabbinic construction of time is a key source to understanding how the rabbis established their identity vis-à-vis both early Christianity and Roman institutions. The counting of years according to historical events or other parameters by which a community chooses to frame the progress of time is very much reflective of the way it perceives itself, and a marker of its social relationships. 

Some rabbinic sources show that rabbinic Jews were not only aware of year counting systems around them, and evidently used them in their documents, but were also concerned, to some extent, with their symbolic meaning. For instance, a third century ordinance rules that a bill of divorce is not completely valid if the husband "used (the years of) a kingdom that is not legitimate, or of the kingdom of Medea, or of the Greek Empire, of the building of the Temple, or of the destruction of the Temple". Another passage depicts the fact that Israel counts years "of others" rather than "their own" as a negative result, like their oppression by other nations, of their not being devoted to God.

I thus ask to explore, with a comprehensive examination of the corpus of classical rabbinic literature, rabbinic attitudes towards counting of years and the use of different numbering systems. With that I hope to add another perspective to the identity struggle of the rabbinic community within its cultural context, as reflected in the arena of construction of time.

Curriculum vitae

Since 2023 

Post-Doctorate, Mandel-Scholion Fellow in the Humanities and Jewish Studies, The Hebrew University

2022 – 2023

Visiting Scholar, The Berkowitz Fellow for the Study of Jewish Law, History and Civilization, New York University School of Law

2021 – 2022

Visiting Scholar, The Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania

2020 – 2021

Post-Doctorate, Kreitman Postdoctoral Fellow, Ben-Gurion University

2014 – 2020

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PhD

2010 – 2013

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MA (magna cum laude)

2005 – 2009

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, BA (magna cum laude)

Selected Publications

2024. “Gentile Land Ownership in the Land of Israel: The Palestinian Talmud in Light of Biblical Models and Roman Law”, The Jewish Quarterly Review 114 (2), 179–210.

2021. “Amanos or Ammana: An Emerging Interpretative Tradition and Maimonides' Emendation of the Mishnah” [Hebrew], Tarbiz 87, 553–587.

2021. “Gentiles, Suspected Jews and Other ‘Others’: Textual, Halakhic and Social Developments in the Tosefta” [Hebrew], Te‘uda 31, 315–348.

2020. “‘Built, Destroyed and Built Again’: The Temple and History in Genesis Rabbah, in Light of Christian Sources”, The Jewish Quarterly Review 110, 652–678.

2016. “‘He Who Has Said This Did Not Say That’: The Origin and Development of the Speaker Splitting Technique in Rabbinic Midrash” [Hebrew], Jewish Studies 51, 1–29.

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February 23, 2023

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