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The Temporal Turn in Ancient Judaism and Jewish Studies

Mon, December 17, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Backbay 1 Complex

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


Despite the apparent finality of AJ Heschel’s pronouncement that Judaism is a religion of “time,” the past few years have seen a renewed scholarly interest in the relationships between time, time-keeping, and forms of temporality and Jewish culture, participating in a vibrant focus on time across the arts, humanities and sciences. This roundtable asks why “time” has become an important topic of research in recent years and reflects on the innovative ways to approach late antique Judaism through that lens. Discussants will address: What are the trends in recent work on time and temporality in the fields of Ancient Judaism and Jewish Studies? What new insights into the study of Judaism have emerged as a result of focus on time? What reasons (academic, religious, and geopolitical) underpin this interest in time in a wide variety of disciplines? What are some new avenues for exploration in this vibrant and growing field at the intersection of time and Jewish Studies?

Judith Newman will discuss ways in which Jews in antiquity sought to overcome their present through the interpretive engagement with scripture in Qumran and texts of the so-called “pseudepigrapha.” Sarit Kattan Gribetz will discuss new approaches to annual, weekly, daily and hourly time in late antiquity as well as the impact of comparative studies of time in the ancient world on our understanding of ancient Jewish time. Lynn Kaye will discuss the topic of time in ancient Judaism from a methodological perspective, comparing the absence of time as a category in rabbinic modes of questioning and in some continental philosophy. David Zvi Kalman will discuss the reception of biblical and rabbinic time-related texts and practices, focusing in particular on the effects of the invention of the mechanical clock in medieval Europe. The moderator is Sergey Dolgopolski, Gross Professor of Jewish Studies at SUNY Buffalo. His recent research is on the temporality of citation in the notion of "a new testament" in the Palestinian Talmud and its broader contexts.

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