12 episodes

The Ancient & Late Antique Near East Lectures combines recordings from two lecture series coordinated by the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin: the Ancient Near East lecture series and the Workshop on Late Antiquity. These complementary lecture series bring together scholars focusing on the civilizations and cultures of the Mediterranean and its environs from the beginnings of recorded history; the rise of Judaism; the ancient empires of the Near East including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, and the civilizations of Phoenicia and Anatolia; the Second Temple period; Christian origins; the Byzantine Empire; and early Islam.

These series are coordinated and co-sponsored by the Middle Eastern Studies program, the Department of Art & Art History, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Classics, the Department of History, and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ancient & Late Antique Near East Lecture Series The University of Texas at Austin

    • History

The Ancient & Late Antique Near East Lectures combines recordings from two lecture series coordinated by the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin: the Ancient Near East lecture series and the Workshop on Late Antiquity. These complementary lecture series bring together scholars focusing on the civilizations and cultures of the Mediterranean and its environs from the beginnings of recorded history; the rise of Judaism; the ancient empires of the Near East including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, and the civilizations of Phoenicia and Anatolia; the Second Temple period; Christian origins; the Byzantine Empire; and early Islam.

These series are coordinated and co-sponsored by the Middle Eastern Studies program, the Department of Art & Art History, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Classics, the Department of History, and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Peter’s ‘Hypocrisy’ and Paul’s: Two ‘Hypocrites’ at the Foundation of Christianity?

    Peter’s ‘Hypocrisy’ and Paul’s: Two ‘Hypocrites’ at the Foundation of Christianity?

    Guest Lecturer Margaret Mitchell. In an infamous passage in his Letter to the Galatians (2:11-14), Paul called out Peter as a 'hypocrite.' This passage, especially when read in light of Paul's own appeal to himself as 'all things to all people' in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, was to cause deep trouble for later Christian interpreters, who sought to defend their movement against charges from outsiders that it had a cracked and unstable foundation in dual 'hypocrites.' This lecture will introduce this 'pagan' critique and the cultural force it had, and the various solutions to the inherited dilemma from their scriptures that were offered by patristic authors (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome and Augustine). In light of this context, turn to a sustained analysis of an untranslated homily by John Chrysostom, hom. in Gal 2:11 (In faciem ei restiti), which addresses not just the hypocrisy of Peter and Paul, but also the sticky problem of the hypocrisy of the Christian who reads this text approvingly as Paul's "in your face" to Peter. As we shall see, Chrysostom does this by engaging in a convoluted pretense of his own.

    • 1 hr
    Eusebius of Emesa (4th century) and his Commentary on Genesis

    Eusebius of Emesa (4th century) and his Commentary on Genesis

    Eusebius was born ca. 300 C.E. in the Syriac city of Edessa where, according to his biographers, he received his first training in biblical interpretation. He later studied with the other Eusebius in Caesarea and settled in Antioch, in the wake of the Council of Nicaea, before becoming bishop, around 340, of the Syrian city of Emesa (present-day Homs). His Commentary on Genesis, written in Greek but preserved in its entirety only in an Armenian translation, reflects much of his personal life story. Eusebius brings his knowledge of Syriac to the interpretation of the Greek Septuagint text, often in an attempt to uncover nuances in the Hebrew original.The Commentary also reflects Syriac and Antiochene Christianity’s proximity to Judaism. Basing ourselves on a select number of passages, we will explore what the new Commentary has to tell about Judaism and how it relates to early Syriac exegesis (in particular Ephrem) on the one hand and Greek Antiochene exegesis on the other.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    The Senate and the Sun: Inspiration for the Arch of Constantine

    The Senate and the Sun: Inspiration for the Arch of Constantine

    The arch of Constantine has long puzzled scholars trying to trace the religious development of the first Christian emperor. Dedicated just three years after his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the arch shows no trace of the Christian inspiration said to have led to Constantine's victory by Eusebius and Lactantius. Lenski argues that the arch's inscription represents not a Christian but a pagan interpretation of the victory put forward by the Roman Senate, adding further refinements to this earlier argument based on the arch's iconography. He will examine the many representations of the sun god on the monument to show that the arch's designers wished to credit Constantine's success to the intervention of Sol Invictus. He will then examine the role assigned to the Senate itself on the arch's reliefs and particularly in the two Constantinian friezes on the arch's northern side. The prominent place of senators seems designed to co-opt Constantine into the Roman Senate and its ideology and thereby to ensure his acceptance of its version of the events surrounding the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Ashkelon, Seaport of the Philistines

    Ashkelon, Seaport of the Philistines

    Explore the origins, daily life, religion, and language of the Philistines, a cosmopolitan people who occupied the great Mediterranean seaport of Ashkelon for nearly six hundred years, until its destruction and their exile by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C. In twenty-five seasons of excavations, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon has uncovered much new evidence about the mysterious Philistines, including a rare example of one of the ancient marketplaces that linked land routes from the southeast to a web of international Mediterranean merchants. (1175-604 BC)

    Lawrence Stager is is Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and is Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum. Since 1985 he has overseen the excavations of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Demons and Evil Angels in Early Judaism

    Demons and Evil Angels in Early Judaism

    Although classical Israelite religion has very little to say about demons and other evil forces, but popular religion took it for granted that evil demons existed, haunting desert ruins and sometimes preying on people. In the late Persian and Hellenistic periods (4th—2nd centuries BCE) speculation about these types of figures proliferates. Incantations against demons, protective amulets, and practices of exorcism are all attested. Mythic accounts of the origin of evil spirits are developed, and the names and occasionally even the appearance of the demons are described. This talk will examine the origins and functions of speculation on demonic forces in early Judaism, a worldview with profound and lasting cultural effects. Although rabbinic Judaism largely rejected it, this worldview strongly shaped Christian religious beliefs. And while modernist Christians do not take the mythology of evil spirits literally, variations on these beliefs remain common among conservative evangelical and Pentecostal Christians throughout the world.

    Carol A. Newsom is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. She has written seven books and scores of articles, book chapters, translations, encyclopedia articles, and reviews. She has received several prestigious research fellowships, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Henry Luce Foundation, and has won several awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring. She recently served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a senior fellow at Emory University's Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

    • 48 min
    Architecture and Assemblage at the Site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus

    Architecture and Assemblage at the Site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus

    This paper will take as a point of departure the ongoing work at the site of Polis-Chrysochous (ancient Arsinoë) on the western side of Cyprus where a team has worked to document both the architecture of one of two Early Christian basilicas and an associated assemblage of Late Roman ceramics. The architecture and assemblage from this site demonstrates the connections between the city of Arsinoë and other sites on Cyprus as well as southern Anatolia. At first glance, these links may appear an unremarkable consequence of the site's location, but the character of the basilica and the nature of the assemblage reveals more than simply geographic determinism and hints at the material manifestations of the human decisions that constitute culture. The significance of the past 30 years of field work on Cyprus, in this context, becomes clear as it provides an almost unparalleled potential to analyze the material culture of a series of related, yet distinct, sites in the ancient world.

    • 1 hr 3 min

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