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Collective Sin and Vicarious Atonement in Rabbinic Martyrology

January 22, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


REGISTRATION CLOSED, WALK UPS WELCOME- ABOUT THIS LECTURE: What makes Jews different from Christians, and Christians different from Jews? What elements (if any) made Jewish and Christian identities irreconcilable with one another, already in the ancient world? The Story of the Ten Martyr from Byzantine Palestine (fifth to seventh centuries CE) presents a narrative in which the blood of the rabbinic martyrs executed by Rome is presented as a medium of vicarious atonement for the sins of the Jewish people. The martyrology challenges conventional assumptions about Jewish attitudes toward atoning human blood and thereby illuminates the dynamics of Jewish self-definition in a Christian world.


ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Ra‘anan Boustan is a Research Scholar in the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. Before coming to Princeton, he was Associate Professor of Ancient and Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Boustan completed his B.A. in Classics at Brown University in 1994 and received a graduate degree in Classics and Religious Studies from the University of Amsterdam during his stay in the Netherlands as a Fulbright Fellow in 1994–95. In 2004, he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. He held a prestigious Harrington Fellowship in 2011–12 in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and has twice been a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2003–4 and 2007–8).

Boustan is the author of From Martyr to Mystic: Rabbinic Martyrology and the Making of Merkavah Mysticism (2005) and co-author of The Elephant Mosaic Panel in the Synagogue at Huqoq (2017). He has co-edited eight books or special issues of journals and has published his
work in leading journals such as Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Harvard Theological Review, The Jewish Quarterly Review, and Medieval Encounters. He also co-edits the journal Jewish Studies Quarterly.

Boustan’s current research and teaching explore the dynamic intersections between Judaism and other Mediterranean religious traditions in late antiquity, with a special focus on the impact of Christianization on Jewish culture and society in late antiquity. Boustan is currently writing a book entitled The Holy Remains: Tokens of Cult and Kingship between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity, which traces the afterlives of sacred objects associated with the biblical past within the Jewish and Christian cultures of late antiquity. In addition, he is the site historian for the Huqoq Excavation Project in Lower Galilee and collaborates with Dr. Karen Britt on the publication of the newly discovered mosaic floor of the Huqoq synagogue.


January 22, 2020
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Temple Chai
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