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Intolerance – Polemics – Debate: Cultural Resistance in the Ancient World conference

When:Tu 16-05-2017 at 14:30
Where:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen Oude Boteringestraat 38, Room 253

this is a three-day event


This conference, hosted by the Department of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Origins, addresses the phenomenon of forces of “cultural resistance” in the Ancient World, calling attention to the whole spectrum of intolerance, polemics and debate, and particularly focusing on intolerance—a very relevant contemporary issue. The conference seeks to understand intolerance in its different disguises of cultural, religious and philosophical intolerance and polemics in Antiquity. By doing so, it seizes the opportunity to enquire into the precise nature of intolerance: is every assertion of values and norms, is every exclusivism necessarily intolerant? Where, when, and how does cultural, religious, or philosophical self-identity start to exclude others in an intolerant way?


Non-speakers interested in attending are welcome but should contact George van Kooten beforehand at because of limited seating in room 253


  • George van Kooten, email, mobile +31 6 20 70 60 27
  • Jacques van Ruiten, email

Programme (pdf version)

Tuesday 16 May

Time Speaker From Subject
14:30 Tea in room 253
14:45 Jacques van Ruiten University of Groningen Opening
15:00 - 15:45 Zlatko Pleše University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Religious Intolerance and Acculturation
15:45-16:30 Marjo Korpel Protestant Theological University Religious Intolerance in the Ancient Near East
16:30-17:00 Break
17:00-17:45 George Boys-Stones Durham University Polemics between Philosophical Schools
17:45-18:30 Jacques van Ruiten University of Groningen Polemics against the Idols in the Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature
18:30-18:45 Break
18:45-19:30 Paul Heck Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The Intolerance of Rationalism: The Case of al-Jahiz in Ninth-Century Baghdad

Dinner buffet

Wednesday 17 May

Time Speaker From Subject
9:00-9:45 Dominik Markl Pontificio Instituto Biblico, Rome Polemics against Child Sacrifice and the Construction of the Other in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History
9:45-10:30 Mladen Popović University of Groningen Models of the Qumran Community as a Case-Study for Intolerance, Polemics and Debate in Ancient Judea
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-11:30 Stefan Beyerle University of Greifswald Intolerance in Early Judaism. Emic and Etic Descriptions of Jewish Religions in the Second Temple Period
11:30-12:15 Bärry Hartog Protestant Theological University (In)Tolerance and Space in Philo’s Embassy to Gaius
12:15-13:00 Steve Mason University of Groningen Judaean/Jewish Amixia in Philo, Josephus, and Non-Judaean Authors
13:00-15:00 Lunch
15:00-15:45 Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta University of Groningen Alternative Cosmogonies: Neopythagorean, Platonic, and Stoic Inter-school 3 Polemics Regarding the First Principles and the Origins of Valentinian Protology
15:45-16:30 Robbert van den Berg University of Leiden Polemics by Proxy: The Oration of Emperor Julian against the Cynic Heracleius and the Christians
16:30-17:00 Break
17:00-17:45 Peter Franz Mittag Universität zu Köln, Historisches Institut, Abt. Alte Geschichte Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ Cultural Policy toward the Jews in Context
17:45-18:30 James Carleton Paget University of Cambridge Evidence for a Jewish adversus Christianos tradition: the case of Celsus' Jew
18:30-18:45 Break
18:45-19:30 James C. Oleson The University of Auckland D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance and the Law of Unintended Consequences
19:45 Dinner

Thursday 18 May

Time Speaker From Subject
8:30-9:15 Annette Merz Protestant Theological University Polemics in the New Testament: Polemics in the New Testament and Related Hermeneutical Problems
9:15-10:00 George van Kooten University of Groningen John’s CounterSymposium: ‘The Continuation of Dialogue’ in Christianity—A Contrapuntal Reading of John’s Gospel and Plato’s Symposium
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-11:00 Diego R. Sarrió Cucarella Pontificio Instituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica, Rome The Law of Justice (shari‘at al-‘adl) and the Law of Grace (shari‘at al-faḍl) in Medieval Muslim-Christian Polemics
11:00-11:45 Clare Wilde University of Groningen Christian Responses to Islam: Scripture and Rational Arguments in Inter-Confessional Debates
11:45-12:30 Reuven Firestone Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Quranic anti-Jewish Polemics
12:30-14:00 George van Kooten & Jacques van Ruiten University of Groningen Concluding reflections
14:00 Informal lunch

Kindly and generously sponsored by

  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
  • Nicolaas Mulerius Foundation (treasurers: present and past rectores magnifici of the University of Groningen)
  • Groningen University Fund
  • Protestant Theological University (PThU)—Amsterdam and Groningen
  • Faculty of Theology & Religious Studies of the University of Groningen