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Ancient World Seminar: Jason Zurawski (Groningen), “Interaction through Education: Jewish Paideia in the Hellenistic and Roman Diaspora”

Wanneer:ma 16-10-2017 16:15 - 17:30
Waar:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), room 253
Jewish Paideia

The picture painted of Jewish Diaspora communities is often one of extended or permanent exile, wandering Jews stranded in a foreign land, strangers in a strange place, forever desiring to return home to Judea but somehow unable to do so. This picture, however, stands in stark contrast to what we see in the actual literature created by Diaspora Jews in the ancient Mediterranean world. There, instead, we find Jewish thinkers at home in their adopted communities, not xenoi longing for Jerusalem. Was their existence in these “foreign” cities idyllic and perfectly peaceful? Certainly not. But, more often than not, what we find in the literature are Jews hoping for a better life in their home communities rather than escape from them. Conceptions of idealized Jewish education offer a unique vantage point from which to view internal discussions on and approaches to cultural interaction and integration in these various communities. In this paper, we will explore unique models of Jewish education, from Ptolemaic Alexandria to Roman Antioch, in order to see how one’s attitude towards, for example, Greek encyclical paideia or Greek philosophy, can speak to deeper questions of Jewish identity and community in the Mediterranean Diaspora.

Jason Zurawski received his PhD in Second Temple Judaism from the University of Michigan in 2016 where he wrote his dissertation on Jewish Paideia in the Hellenistic Diaspora. Since September 2016, he has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Qumran Institute in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. Recent publications on ancient Jewish education include “Mosaic Paideia: The Law of Moses within Philo of Alexandria’s Model of Jewish Education” (forthcoming in the Journal for the Study of Judaism) and the edited volume Second Temple Jewish Paideia in Context (de Gruyter, 2017). His first monograph will be out sometime next year with Cambridge University Press.