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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

Constructions and Transformations of Judaism in the Hellenistic period

Responsible for the postdoc project: Prof. Dr. Jörg Lanckau
Funded by: URPP Asia and Europe
Project duration: April 2008 – March 2011
Research Field: Entangled Histories

Jewish tombstone (doubled Menorah) from Roman Time with Greek inscription (for Primitiva and her nephew Euphrenon), copy of the Museo della civiltà romana (Rome), original in the Vatican Museums


The project interprets the history of Early Judaism in the Hellenistic period by using the concept of "Entangled Histories". The first step examines the basic identifiability of Jewish life. After a reflection of identity theories and inspecting archaeologically evident indicators the study explores the generators of membership and the performance of delimitation in compliance with the real balance of power. The processes of differentiation and demarcation of borders reconstructed thereby are understood against the background of their correlation with the ambivalent perceptions from outside. The second step investigates historically reconstructible or literarily documented examples of boundary crossing and phenomena of hybridity, which should be explained by the concept of cultural «translation». The third step turns toward the expression forms of these Entangled Histories and the symbolic representations of Jewish identity. The emphasis is on the iconographic certificates respected less so far.

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