Bard Graduate Center Logo
  Event Banner Image

Seth Schwartz
Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization, Columbia University; Leon Levy Professor of Jewish Material Culture Spring 2021, Bard Graduate Center

Some Apparently Inexplicable Artifacts of Jewish Life in Second-Century Asia Minor

The archaeology of the Jews in High Roman Imperial Asia conforms with the hypothesis of a dramatic shift when compared with the evidence from earlier that many Asian Jews fought for and at least in a few places attained some privileges allowing them to follow their own laws, organize as synagogue-based religious communities, etc. While some degree of separation is implicit in the very existence of recognizably Jewish material culture in the second century, there are many anomalies and conversely little evidence for the widespread survival of the sort of community authorized by the early emperors and fancifully ascribed by the New Testament book of Acts to the Asian Jews in general. Schwartz will focus on a few especially noteworthy texts, two of them from the reign of Hadrian (117–138 CE), and several from neighboring cities in the Meander Valley apparently from several decades later. He will suggest that part of the explanation for this apparent shift lies in shifts in imperial treatment of the Jews—legally and fiscally—following the disastrous revolts of 66–70 and 115–117 CE.

Thursday, April 8, 12:15 pm

Register Button

Seth Schwartz (BA, Classics, Yeshiva University, 1979; PhD, History, Columbia, 1985) is a political, social, and cultural historian of the Jews who specializes in the period between Alexander the Great and the rise of Islam, and has become especially interested in the anthropological and social theoretical aspects of his field. Before returning to Columbia in 2009 he taught for fourteen years at the Jewish Theological Seminary after having been a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a senior research fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. In 1999/2000 he was a Guggenheim Fellow and in 2006/7 a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is co-author, with Roger Bagnall, Alan Cameron and Klaas Worp of Consuls of the Later Roman Empire (Atlanta, 1987), and author of Josephus and Judaean Politics (Leiden, 1990) and Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 BCE to 640 CE (Princeton, 2001), Were the Jews a Mediterranean Society? Reciprocity and Solidarity in Ancient Judaism (Princeton, 2009), and The Ancient Jews from Alexander to Muhammad (Cambridge, 2014). Schwartz is the Spring 2021 Leon Levy Foundation Professor of Jewish Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center, generously supported by the Leon Levy Foundation and The David Berg Foundation.

This event is open to the BGC community and invited guests of the speaker. This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event.