Faculty Seminars 2015-2016
Open to faculty and graduate students only
The Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers invites you to a seminar with
How to Close a Canon
from Jewish Antiquity to Haile Selassie
Tuesday, November 17, 10:30 am – 12:00 noon, followed by lunch
Seminar Room, 12 College Avenue (Bildner Center)
While no concept of a scriptural canon existed in Judaism before the Common Era, something shifts in the first century CE: Josephus and 4Ezra mention that there is a certain number of sacred books, 22 or 24. Scholars interpret this to mean that Jews now had a closed canon of scripture. But neither source enumerates which texts are included; the numbers are clearly typological; and a broader corpus of writings is still considered sacred and authentic, even though it falls outside these bounds. What do such numbers really mean, and how are they related to the concept of canonicity? Focusing on second temple Jewish sources like Psalm manuscripts and Jubilees as well as Josephus and 4Ezra, the talk will also consider Rabbinic and Syriac Christian literature and the modern analogy of the Ethiopic Orthodox Church to show how considering the cultural uses and meanings of numbers in religious discourses can change the story we tell about setting the boundaries of scripture. This becomes a lens for reflecting on the culturally shifting concepts of canon, revelation, and the idea of “the Bible” across time and religious traditions.
Eva Mroczek is Assistant Professor of Premodern Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California Davis. Her first book, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity, is coming out in April with Oxford University Press. Dr. Mroczek is currently a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.