EABS 2022 – Toulouse

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EABS 2022 - Toulouse

At the European Association of Biblical Studies’ Annual Conference (Toulouse, 4-7 July 2022), Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò and Katharina Pyschny co-chaired the session “Judean Religion(s) in Persian and Early Hellenistic Times (5th–3rd Century BCE) in Light of Iconographic, Epigraphic, and Biblical Evidence”. This was the kick-off session for their ongoing research project of the same name. They invited speakers with a variety of different backgrounds and specializations, to offer new perspectives on the religious history of Israel/Palestine in its broader context, on the basis of both biblical and extra-biblical sources.

Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò offered a detailed examination of P. Amherst 63, in order to propose a new reconstruction of Yahwism(s) in the Persian Period. Christoph Nihan drew on a number of biblical and extra-biblical sources, to show their limits in reconstructing the Judean high priesthood in the Persian and early Hellenistic period, especially in terms of its powers and privileges. Katharina Pyschny and Sarah Hollaender turned to the visual sources, arguing that distinct ethnic markers are less important than the signifying power of imagery, often resulting from cross-cultural interaction, thus highlighting the potential for diverse (religious) symbol systems to impact Jewish beliefs and ritual in both in Yehud and Samaria and elsewhere as well. Céline Debourse offered a comparative perspective on the matter, by looking to Babylon as a well-documented parallel for the destruction of a temple community. These case studies were certainly diverse in terms of their themes and sources, but all of them raised significant questions (and doubts) about the prevailing notion of a strongly centralized and monolithic Yahwism in post-exilic times and argued in favour of a more dynamic understanding of the history of religion in Persian and early Hellenistic times.

The proceedings of this conference session will be published in an upcoming volume of “Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel” (with Mohr Siebeck), edited by Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò and Katharina Pyschny.