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Standards of In/Coherence in Ancient Jewish Literature

Workshop, 7-8 September 2015

St Mary’s College 

Generously funded by the Carnegie Trust

From the beginnings of modern historical method, the question of whether books from classical and ancient Near Eastern antiquity are unified works has been a key battleground.  The perceived disunity of ancient works has resulted in the development of numerous methodologies and technical disciplines that account for textual incoherence by attempting to unravel layers of textual growth or by arguing that instances of incoherence are deliberate, strategic choices by erudite writers.  The present project attempts to overcome the potential anachronisms of these approaches and the methodological divide between them by exploring standards of literary cohesion or incohesion that were held by ancient Jewish writers and readers themselves.  The project, Standards of In/Coherence in Ancient Jewish Literature will consider the expectations, perceptions, tolerances, or measures of textual cohesion and coherence in antiquity and the significance of these for the analysis of ancient Near Eastern, biblical, and ancient post-biblical Jewish texts. Given the lack of explicit and reflective consideration of this topic in academic discourse and its centrality for understanding the literature and thought of antiquity, the field is ripe for such a study. At issue is the genuine understanding of the literature and thought forms of cultures in antiquity that differ sometimes profoundly from our own—an issue essential to the historical humanities as a whole.

The participants in the research project will meet at St Mary’s College on Sept 7 for a closed-door workshop. This will be followed on Sept 8 by a public presentation by Drs Andrew Teeter and William Tooman, introducing the larger research project of which the workshop is a part.  Mohr-Siebeck Verlag will publish the papers in a thematic issue of the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel.


Participants (alphabetical):

  • Prof Philip Alexander, University of Manchester (Emeritus)
  • Dr Ronnie Goldstein, Hebrew University Jerusalem
  • Prof Reinhard Kratz, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • Prof Alexander Samely, University of Manchester
  • Dr D Andrew Teeter, Harvard University
  • Dr William A Tooman, University of St Andrews
  • Prof Yair Zakovitch, Hebrew University Jerusalem (Emeritus)

Contact details

St Mary's College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852