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Lecture | FLARe lecture series

Challenges and Pitfalls in Assessing the Impact of Zoroastrian Culture on the Talmud

Wednesday 28 April 2021
Framing Late Antique Religion Lecture Series
This is an online event. Please register to receive the link to the lecture.

Speculation about how Zoroastrianism impacted ancient Judaism began early and stirred considerable interest. For Jewish scholars who joined the fray towards the latter half of the nineteenth century, the focus would shift from the Bible to the rabbinic sources, and in particular, to the Babylonian Talmud, a composition created by Jews living within the Sasanian empire. In a tide of scholarship, which would recede by the first third of the twentieth century, these scholars ploughed through topics such as ritual, mythology, linguistic borrowings, angelology, and demonology. The last two decades have witnessed a striking re-emergence of study and debate on the relationship between Zoroastrianism and the Talmud. This lecture will discuss what has changed, where there is progress, and where the methodological problems lie.     

About Geoffrey Herman

Geoffrey Herman is Directeur d’études at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris (EPHE-PSL) where he holds the chair of Ancient Judaisms and Classical Rabbinic Literature. The recipient of the Bertel and Eliezer Shimshon Rosenthal Prize for Talmudic Scholarship in 2015, he spent 2018 as a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His research is focused on the Jews of Babylonia in the Talmudic Era, which he seeks to understand in the light of the broad Sasanian culture. Among his publications is A Prince without a Kingdom: The Exilarch in the Sasanian Era (Mohr Siebeck, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 150, Tübingen, 2012); and the recently edited volume, together with Julia Rubanovich, Irano-Judaica VII, Studies Relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture throughout the Ages (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2019).

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