Time as a Factor in Negotiating Jewish, Christian and “Pagan” Identities in Late Antique Palaestina

Prof. Dr. Maren R. Niehoff, HUJI

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies, HU Berlin

 

In Late Antique Palaestina several factors coincided to prompt a wide-spread sense that a new era was dawning. Among Jews, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70CE as well as the suppression of the Bar Kokhva Revolt in 135 CE, with the consequent prohibition to enter Jerusalem, gave rise to a radical reconfiguration of religion and society. The rabbis emerged as a new urban elite, which inscribed itself into Roman structures and integrated Roman law, especially following Caracalla’s general grant of Roman citizenship in 212. Among Christians, Caracalla’s grant of citizenship strengthened the sense of a universal vocation supported by the Empire. At the same time, Origen was concerned to define the relationship of Christianity towards Judaism, reconstructing a pre-Mosaic period of universal Israelite religion, which was now revived via Jesus among the Christian communities. Among “Pagans”, especially Celsus and Porphyry, whose works were transmitted largely in Palaestina, we see a concern to hold onto traditional categories of time, such as the idea of an eternal creation lasting forever.

This exploration introduces ancient Jewish discourses as well as the Israeli and American academies to the overall project of CHRONOI and subscribes to a radically interdisciplinary perspective. Experts of rabbinic Judaism and Patristics work together to discover new dimensions of interaction and polemics between the different intellectual and religious communities. Late Antique Palaestina, and especially the provincial capital Caesarea, will be appreciated as a unique space of vibrant cultural exchanges and mutually stimulating formations of identities, which had a lasting impact on the development of Western civilization. Three senior scholars – Maren R. Niehoff, Christoph Markschies and Sarit Kattan-Grivetz, as well as two post-docs, Yonatan Livne and Hanan Mazeh, will cooperate both among themselves as well as with their colleagues in Berlin. A first workshop is planned for June 24th, 2019 in Berlin, in order to stimulate exchange of insight and broader discussion.