The sixteenth century testifies to the manifold ways in which European scholars manifested an ever-growing fascination with Hebrew literature in all its forms. It was in the seventeenth century, however, that this interest, which was grounded in an unparalleled proficiency in reading complex Jewish books, became focused on the foundation document of rabbinic Judaism, the Mishnah. The culmination of this intense engagement with the Mishnah is epitomized in the monumental volumes that Guilielmus Surenhusius printed in Amsterdam between 1698 and 1703, which contained the Hebrew text of the Mishnah and translations into Latin, along with the commentaries of Maimonides and Obadiah of Bertinoro (c. 1455-c. 1515) and those of Christian scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The quintessential Jewish text became a focus for religious and historical investigation that crossed denominational boundaries. Remarkably, and mutatis mutandis, this phenomenon of reading, translating, and commenting on the Mishnah was paralleled in the Jewish world. This represents a truly Mishnaic Moment.
Join us on April 24th in the Henry Charles Lea Library at the Kislak Center for a symposium to discuss some of the key elements of The Mishnaic Moment: Jewish Law among Jews and Christians in Early Modern Europe, edited by Piet van Boxel, Kirsten Macfarlane and Joanna Weinberg (Oxford University Press, 2022). Piet van Boxel and Joanna Weinberg, both at the University of Oxford, will speak, followed by comments and conversation with Penn scholars Anne Albert, David Ruderman, and Joshua Teplitsky, chaired and moderated by Peter Stallybrass.
Sponsored by Penn’s Jewish Studies Program, the Hebert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, the Workshop in the History of Material Texts, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Penn Carey Law School, and the Center for Ancient Studies.
Session I: 10:00-11:15 am
10-10:10 am: Arthur Kiron, Welcome and Introductions
Schottenstein-Jesselson Curator of Judaica Collections; Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
10:10-10:40 am: Joanna Weinberg
Co-Editor of the Mishnaic Moment; Fellow at the Oriental Institute at Oxford University; Emerita Professor of Early Modern Jewish History and Rabbinics, University of Oxford
10:40-11:10 am: Piet van Boxel
Co-Editor of the Mishnaic Moment; Fellow at the Oriental Institute; Emeritus Curator of Hebrew at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
11:10-11:20 am: Q&A
Session II: 11:30 am-1:00 pm
Chair: Peter Stallybrass
11:30-11:35 am: Peter Stallybrass, Introductions
Director of the Seminar in the History of Material Texts, Emeritus; Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
11:35-11:50 am: David Ruderman
Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History, Emeritus; Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
11:50 am-12:05 pm: Anne Albert
Klatt Family Director for Public Programs at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies; executive editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review, University of Pennsylvania
12:05-12:20 pm: Joshua Teplitsky
Joseph Meyerhoff Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History, University of Pennsylvania
12:20-12:35 pm: Discussion, moderated by Peter Stallybrass
12:35-1 pm: Q &A
Featured image: engraved frontispiece of volume one of Guilielmus Surenhusius’ bi-lingual Hebrew-Latin edition of the Mishnah (Amsterdam, 1698)