Date: Sunday-Monday, May 5-6, 2013
Location: Brown University
Judaic Studies Moskow Symposium
The purpose of this symposium, coordinated by Saul Olyan, Samuel Ungerleider Jr. Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies, is to explore ritual violence in the Hebrew Bible collectively and to contribute in a significant way to its theorization.
The symposium is free and all are welcome to attend.
Ritual acts that might be described as violent are not uncommon in texts of the Hebrew Bible. Nehemiah pulls out the beard hair of his opponents (Nehemiah 13); Shimi stones and curses King David as David flees Jerusalem (2 Samuel 16); the corpses of the murderers of Eshbaal are disfigured and displayed publicly (2 Samuel 4); Moses burns the Golden Calf, grinds it up, mixes what is left of it with water, and makes the people drink it (Exodus 32). Most would agree that such acts embody violence, yet as manifestations of ritual violence, they are rarely if ever theorized by biblical scholars. The purpose of this symposium is to explore ritual violence in the Hebrew Bible collectively and to contribute in a significant way to its theorization. As we seek to theorize biblical representations of ritual violence, questions to be considered include: What constitutes a violent act in a ritual setting? What ends might ritual violence accomplish? Who and what are the targets of ritual violence? The gender dimensions of ritual violence, manifestations of ritual violence in wartime, calculated acts of violence against the non-living (corpses, ritual objects such as inscribed stelae or cultic icons) and the larger ancient West Asian context of representations of ritual violence in the Hebrew Bible will be subjects of interest to our speakers, who engage theory from the social sciences, cognitive science, and other disciplines.
Cosponsors: Egyptology and Ancient West Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Early Cultures, International Travel Fund
Sun, May 5:
Rhode Island Hall, 60 George Street, room 108 (on the campus green)
12:55—Welcome (Saul M. Olyan)
1-1:45—Debra Scoggins Ballentine (Assistant Professor, Rutgers University), “What Ends Might Ritual Violence Accomplish? The Case of Rechab and Baanah in 2 Sam 4”
1:45-2:30—Tracy Lemos (Assistant Professor, University of Western Ontario), “Dispossessing Nations: Population Growth, Scarcity and Genocide in Ancient Israel and Twentieth-Century Rwanda”
3:00-3:45—Mark Leuchter (Associate Professor, Temple University), “Between Politics and Mythology: Josiah’s Assault on Bethel in 2 Kgs 23:15-20”
3:45-4:30—Nathaniel Levtow (Associate Professor, University of Montana), “Strategic Violence Against Ritual Objects: Perspectives from the Cognitive Science of Religion”
4:30-5:15—Susan Niditch (Professor, Amherst College), “‘The Traffic in Women’: Exchange, Ritual Sacrifice, and War”
Mon, May 6:
Brown University Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street, just off the campus green (Conference Room, 3rd floor)
8:30-9:15—Saul M. Olyan (Professor, Brown University), “The Instrumental Dimensions of Ritual Violence Against Corpses in Biblical Texts”
9:15-10:30—Rüdiger Schmitt (Professor, Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster), “Generating Communitas in War-Related Ritual Acts”
11:00-11:45—Jacob Wright (Associate Professor, Emory University), “Urbicide: The Ritualized Killing of Cities in the Ancient Near Eastern Warfare”
Driving directions & parking: http://www.brown.edu/about/visit/driving-directions
Location of events:
Rhode Island Hall http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/Facilities_Management/maps/#building/RIHALL