Convergence and Divergence in Pentateuchal Theory: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Israel, North America and Europe

The conference is co-organized by CNES faculty member Bernard Levinson and includes twenty-five leading scholars, among whom CNES Alum Molly Zahn. The international conference will discuss different approaches to the formation of the Pentateuch, and will be held at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, where Professor Levinson is currently on research leave.

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Bernard Levinson's Academic Website:

Date: May 12-13, 2013

Location: Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, The Hebrew University.

The Pentateuch lies at the heart of the Western humanities. Yet despite nearly two centuries of critical scholarship, the human origins of this monument of civilization remain shrouded in the past. Indeed, the traditional conception of a unified, self-consistent foundation narrative has long been given up. Critical scholarship has isolated multiple layers of tradition, inconsistent laws, and narratives that could only have originated from separate communities within ancient Israel, and were joined together at a relatively late stage by a process of splicing and editing.

Recent developments in academic biblical studies, however, jeopardize the revolutionary progress that has been made over the last two centuries. The so-called "Documentary Hypothesis" has dominated academic discourse on the Pentateuch since the end of the nineteenth century. More recently, however, the source-critical method has come under unprecedented attack. In fact, in many quarters it has been rejected entirely. While new perspectives are constantly being generated to replace traditional paradigms, the past forty years of scholarship have witnessed not simply a proliferation of intellectual models, but the fragmentation of discourse, especially among Israeli, European, and North American scholars.

This conference seeks to further international exchange and re-establish a shared intellectual. Presentations will be offered by a group of twenty-five international scholars, drawn from the fields of Biblical Studies, Second Temple/Dead Sea Scrolls, and Jewish Studies, with extensive time for discussion and debate.

Organizers: Bernard M. Levinson, University of Minnesota; Konrad Schmid, University of Zurich; Baruch J. Schwartz, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Jan Christian Gertz, Heidelberg University.

Speakers: Joel Baden, Yale University; Mark J. Boda, McMaster Divinity College; David Carr, Union Theological Seminary; Cynthia Edenburg, The Open University of Israel; Jan Joosten, University of Strasbourg; Reinhard G. Kratz, University of Göttingen; Christoph Levin, University of Munich; Noam Mizrahi, Tel Aviv University; Christophe Nihan, University of Lausanne; Thomas Römer, University of Lausanne and Collège de France; Christopher Rollston, George Washington University; Dalit Rom-Shiloni, Tel Aviv University; Michael Segal, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Jean Louis Ska, Pontifical Biblical Institute; Jean-Pierre Sonnet, Pontifical Gregorian University; Jeffrey Stackert, University of Chicago; Jakob Wöhrle, University of Münster; David Wright, Brandeis University; Molly Zahn, University of Kansas.

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