The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser

The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser


The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity - Catherine Hezser

Catherine Hezser [+-]
SOAS, University of London
Catherine Hezser is Professor of Jewish Studies at SOAS, University of London. She was Professor II (visiting professor) at the University of Oslo from 2017-20. After holding a senior research fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge (1992-94) she taught at the Free University Berlin, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Trinity College Dublin, where she was Al and Felice Lippert Professor and Director of the Herzog Centre for Jewish and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures (2000-2005). She has published books and articles on the social history and daily life of Jews in Roman and early Byzantine Palestine. Amongst he recent book publication are Rabbinic Body Language: Non-Verbal Communication in Palestinian Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2017) and Bild und Kontext: Jüdische und christliche Ikonographie der Spaetantike (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018).


Ancient Mesopotamian, biblical, rabbinic, and Christian literature was created and transmitted by the intellectual elite and therefore presents their world views and perspectives. This volume investigates for the first time whether and to what extent religious knowledge – e.g., “sacred” narratives, customary practices, legal rules, family traditions, festival observances -- was accessible to and known by ordinary people beyond religious functionaries. Which contexts (e.g., family, synagogue and church, private and public study, communal rituals) enabled the dissemination and acquisition of religious knowledge beyond scholarly circles? In which forms other than written texts was such knowledge available and who (e.g., parents, teachers, scribes, rabbis, priests, monks) mediated it to a public that was largely illiterate? Can we assume that the majority of those who identified themselves as Jewish or Christian would have possessed a “working knowledge” of the respective religious traditions and customary practices? Would that knowledge have differed from one person to another, depending on gender, socio-economic status, religious commitment, and the general circumstances in which one lived? This book is the first collaborative interdisciplinary study of this important subject area with chapters written by international experts on ancient Mesopotamia, the Hebrew Bible, Qumran literature, rabbinic literature, and early Christianity including apocrypha and monastic traditions.

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Hezser, Catherine. Acknowledgements. The Use and Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Antiquity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. vii-viii Aug 2021. ISBN 9781781798768. Date accessed: 15 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43253. Aug 2021

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