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Conference in Jerusalem - May 27-31 ,2018

A large, international conference will take place in Jerusalem this month. It is co-organized by Prof. A. Fürst and the ITN and will focus on the notions of the Self as they emerged in the Greco-Roman period.

2018.05.15 | Birgitte Bøgh

Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures

May 27 - May 31, 2018 


The objective of the conference is to examine the growing scholarly consensus that new, intensified or modified notions of the Self emerged in the Greco-Roman period. Assembling a group of experts from different fields, we ask whether and how new notions of the Self emerged across “pagan”, Jewish and Christian cultures. What prompted philosophers, exegetes, biographers, theologians, artists and law-makers to conceive of human beings as individuated selves, with a sense of their own subjectivity and an urge to reflect upon themselves? How did authors position themselves in their text and address the reader in a more personal way? What role did religion, Stoicism and the revival of Platonism play? Looking at literary and material evidence, we will investigate if and how a koine of the Self emerged in the imperial period.

To what extent did local cultures transform their traditional notions, paving the way for specifically Greek, Jewish or Christian perspectives, which were formed in dialogue with adjacent cultures? With the ascendancy of Rome, the establishment of monarchical forms of rule and subsequently the Christianization of the empire universal structures became available, which created new channels of communication and challenged traditional roles in society. The individual was confronted with new social and intellectual options, yet also with a loss of political power and democratic self-expressions. Intellectuals were thus prompted to define their role on a new scale, often taking recourse to the private sphere. These themes will be explored in different sessions on the following topics: “Between Center and Periphery: Constructing the Self in the Roman Empire”, “Contours of Interiority”, “Trajectories of Interiority”, “The Self in Action: Society, Law and Liturgy” and “Philosophical Reflections on the Self”. 

The conference will feature two key-note lectures:

Clifford Ando, "Self, Society, Individual and Person in Roman Law"   

Catharine Edwards, 'The epistolographic Self: Letter-Writing, Empire and Identity” 


Maren Niehoff, Organizer (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Alfons Fürst, Co-Organizer (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
Gretchen Reydams Schils, Co-Organizer (University of Notre Dame)
Ishay Rosen-Zvi Co-Organizer (Tel Aviv University)
Joshua Levinson Co-Organizer (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Find the program below or download it here


Sunday May 27:

16:00: Registration and reception

17:00: Greetings
Prof. Michal Linial, Director of the IIAS
Prof. Maren R. Niehoff (Hebrew University), Head of the IIAS Research Group

17:15: Keynote Lecture
Chair: Benjamin Isaac (Tel Aviv University)

- Clifford Ando (University of Chicago): Self, Society, Individual and Person in Roman Law

Monday May 28:

9:00-11:15: Between Center and Periphery: Constructing the Self in the Roman Empire (Part I)
Chair: Avner Ecker (Bar Ilan University)

- Jörg Rüpke (University of Erfurt): Urban Selves: Before and Beyond
- Carlos Lévy (l'Université de Paris-Sorbonne): An Original Roman Contribution? Ovid and the Fluidity of the Self
- Matthew Roller (Johns Hopkins University), Selfhood and Exemplarity: Fashioning yourself after your model, and your model after yourself

11:15-11:45: Coffee Break

11:45-13:15: Between Center and Periphery: Constructing the Self in the Roman Empire (Part II)
Chair: Menachem Hirshman (Hebrew University)

- Maren R. Niehoff (Hebrew University): A Liminal Self: Rabbi Abbahu “of the House of Caesar”
- Reuven Kiperwasser (Hebrew University): “What have the Romans ever done for us?” Creating Identity in Rabbinic Literature

13:15-15:00: Lunch Break

15:00-16:30: Contours of Interiority (Part I)
Chair: Guy Stroumsa (Hebrew University)

- Eve-Marie Becker (Aarhus University): Paul's (Subjective) Self in and around his Letter to the Philippians
- Karen King (Harvard University): Practicing the Immortal Self according to The Gospel of Mary

16:30-17:00: Coffee break

17:00-18:30: Contours of Interiority (Part II)
Chair: Guy Stroumsa (Hebrew University)

- Ishay Rosen Zvi (Tel Aviv University): Midrashic Selves
- Paula Fredriksen (Hebrew University): Augustine and the Introspective Conscience of the West

Tuesday, May 29

8:30-10:00: Trajectories of Interiority (Part I)
Chair: James Kugel (Bar Ilan University)

- Ilaria Ramelli (Angelicum; Erfurt; Oxford): Origen's Strategies of Self-Fashioning and Their Competing Receptions
- Sarit Kattan Gribetz (Fordham University): Constructions of the Self through Time

10:00-10:30: Coffee Break

10:30-12:00: Trajectories of Interiority (Part II)
Chair: James Kugel (Bar Ilan University)

- David Lambert (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): Emerging Contours of the Self in Ancient Bible Translation
- Francoise Mirguet (Arizona State University), Dis-Embedding the Inner Self: The Emergence of Interiority in Hellenistic Judaism

Wednesday May 30

9:00-11:15: The Self in Action and Society (Part I)
Chair: Haim Weiss (Ben-Gurion University)

- Laura Nasrallah (Harvard University): The worshipping Self: Christians and Jews and the liturgical spaces of late antiquity
- Yonatan Moss (Hebrew University): The Ancient Christian Literary Self: Between Individual and Collective Models
- Youval Rotman (Tel Aviv University): The Relational Self in Late Antiquity

11:15-11:45: Coffee Break

11:45-13:15: The Self in Action and Society (Part II)
Chair: Haim Weiss (Ben-Gurion University)

- Joshua Levinson (Hebrew University): Getting Away with Murder: The Lethal Subject in Rabbinic Law and Literature
- Albert Baumgarten (Bar Ilan University): Choosing One’s Social Identity – Choosing One’s Self?

17:00-17:30:  Reception at the IIAS with greetings by Prof. Yitzhak Hen, Incoming Director of IIAS

17:30: Keynote Lecture
Chair: Hannah Cotton-Paltiel (Hebrew University)

- Catharine Edwards (University of London): The Epistolographic Self: Letter-Writing, Empire and Identity

Thursday May 31

8.30-10:45: Philosophical Reflections on the Self (I)
Chair: Hillel Newman (Haifa University)

- Sharon Weisser (Tel Aviv University): The Personal Identity of the Stoic Wise Man
- Yair Furstenberg (Hebrew University): The Rabbis against Ethics of Self-Perfection in Tractate Avot
Alfons Fürst (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster): Origen on Individuality and Self-Agency

10:45-11:15: Coffee Break

11:15-13:30: Philosophical Reflections on the Self (Part II)
Chair: Hillel Newman (University of Haifa)

- George Boys Stones (Durham University): The Self and the Soul in Middle Platonism
- Gretchen Reydams Schils (University of Notre Dame): How to 'Become Like God' and Remain Oneself
- Charles Stang (Harvard University): Doubled Selfhood in Late Platonism

 Concluding Remarks


You can see a full list of speakers and find more information via this link:


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Revised 18.05.2018