Text, Authority, and Interpretation in the worlds of Hellenism and early Judaism

A panel discussion in Classical and Near Eastern Studies

Friday, April 29th, 2:00-5:00pm, 140 Nolte

Literate societies, ancient and modern, produce texts of many kinds. Most texts exercise little cultural authority and are read only for brief periods of time, by small groups of individuals, and for limited purposes. But some texts achieve - or are accorded - broad significance and enduring authority. They cease to be merely writings and are transformed into scripture, which is read, studied, and attributed profound meaning of various sorts.

CNES brings together three influential scholars to discuss the phenomenon in early Judaism and the Hellenistic world during the centuries surrounding the turn of the era. Robert Lamberton (Washington University) studies how texts of Homer's poems were established, used, and interpreted in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Benjamin Wright (Lehigh University) examines the production, authorization, and reception of the Septuagint, the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Bible. Molly Zahn (University of Kansas) investigates the rewriting or reworking of biblical books as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. All three processes transpired more or less simultaneously in different parts of the ancient Mediterranean world. Each instantiates a phenomenon of establishing, authorizing, receiving, and interpreting texts that eventually attained the status of scripture.

Conventional disciplinary boundaries have tended to keep the study of ancient Greek and Hebrew literature separate. But these texts were all generated within the intersecting cultural frameworks of the ancient Mediterranean world, suggesting that new knowledge may be gained by examining them together. We expect that the panelists' areas of inquiry will not only prove mutually illuminating, but yield insights applicable to other literatures and other moments in history.


Robert Lamberton, Department of Classics, Washington University in St. Louis

Benjamin G. Wright III, Department of Religion Studies, Lehigh University

Molly M. Zahn, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kansas


Andrew Gallia, Department of History, University of Minnesota

Alex Jassen, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota

The three panelists will each make a brief presentation based on their published work, selections of which are posted below. Participants and attendees are encouraged to read some of these selections in preparation for the panel discussion. For each panelist, one article or book chapter is highlighted as most important for apprehending his or her subject of inquiry.

Robert Lamberton
Lamberton, Homer in Antiquity.pdf
Lamberton Homer Encyclopedia entries.pdf

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This page contains a single entry by kmg published on April 7, 2011 1:33 PM.

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