Wednesday 4 December
In this lecture, Dr Simon Holloway will discuss the Talmudic literature’s complex characters.
We know them simply as “our sages of blessed memory”, but the narratives that present the Talmud’s characters to us are far from straightforward. Recent explorations of contemporary Persian literature, together with the evidence of archaeology, sheds greater light on the culture that produced this Talmud, and facilitates a deeper understanding of the text itself.
By looking at a variety of Talmudic passages against the background of their Sassanid-era composition, we hope to illuminate a long-forgotten Judaism in which people fought off demons, were visited by angels, struggled with (and sometimes bested) God, and even practised witchcraft – despite its prohibition.
Dr Simon Holloway is an education officer at the Sydney Jewish Museum, where he delivers seminars on Nazi racial science, Jewish resistance and the history of the Holocaust. He has a PhD in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies, and an MA in Ancient History. His primary research concerns the composition of the early rabbinic literature and the use of humour in rabbinic text.
Image: Incantation bowl from 6th – 7th century Nippur. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen.