From Creation to Sinai: Jewish, Christian, and Qur'anic Traditions in Interaction

September 1, 2016- July 1, 2017
Organizers: Esther Eshel and Menahem Kister
The Book of Genesis and the beginning of the Book of Exodus are of utmost importance for many fundamental issues in the study of Judaism, Christianity, and nascent Islam. The traditions related to the narrative passages of these books refer, inter alia, to the Creation of the World, Adam as bearer of God's image, angels and demons, Enoch, Divine election, the covenants with the patriarchs prior to Sinai, the establishment of monotheism, the formation of Israel as a nation, and the Exodus. These themes were highly significant in the formulation of the competing religious worldviews and self-understanding of Second Temple and rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Gnosticism, and eventually early Islam. It should be emphasized that the relevant material is not confined to works dedicated expressly to the exegesis of these biblical books; rather, themes of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus are part and parcel of the religious messages of Jewish, Christian and nascent Islamic thought.
Themes and traditions from Genesis and Exodus may be found in a vast array of sources in Antiquity. The Qur'an – unlike medieval Islamic traditions – is one of the latest products of Late Antiquity. While scholarship by and large has tended toward the study of the relevant biblical themes in each religion unto itself, comparative studies transcending the boundaries between the corpora of varying religious traditions are often mutually illuminating. The group’s purpose is not merely to map and compare divergent traditions, but also to elucidate the dynamics of transformation among them, considering the relationships (including polemics and influence) among the religious groups of Antiquity. The anticipated collaboration of scholars from diverse backgrounds in the proposed Research Group will be a rare opportunity for productive synergy.
Participating Scholars:
William Adler, North Carolina State University
Gary Anderson, University of Notre Dame
Esther Eshel (Organizer), Bar-Ilan University
Bas ter Haar Romeny, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Menaham Kister (Organizer), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hillel Newman, University of Haifa
Thomas H. Tobin SJ, Loyola University Chicago
Joseph Witztum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hagit Amirav, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Long-Term Visiting Scholars:
Emmanouela Grypeou, Freie Universität Berlin
Christoph Markschies, Humboldt-Universität 
David T. Runia, University of Melbourne
James Kugel, Bar-Ilan University & Harvard University
Michael Stone, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem





Thursday 08.09.2016

Menahem Kister

The evolving tradition of the three groups on the red sea – midrash, pseudo-Philo, Philo and Josephus.

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Sunday 11.09.2016

William Adler

Palaea Historica – Introduction and reading. Abraham and Melkhizedek

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Tuesday 13.09.2016

Thomas Tobin

Philo’s De Opificio Mundi – Introduction and reading

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Thursday 15.09.2016

Esther Eshel

The Genesis Apocryphon. Traditions concerning the Watchers and the Giants

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Sunday 18.09.2016

Gary Anderson

The chronology of the dedication of the tabernacle in ancient biblical interpretation

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Tuesday 20.09.2016

Joseph Witztum

The twelve springs of Eilim (and other places) between the Qur’an and various Jewish traditions

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Thursday 22.09.2016

Hillel Newman

Exodus chronology in Sefer Zerubavel

Introductory Seminar (closed)

Wednesday 16.11.2016

William Adler

Jubilees and Euhemeristic Historiography: Pre-Abrahamic Universal History in the Chronographia of John Malalas

Open seminar

Sunday 27.11.2016

Yakir Paz

Prior to Sinai: The Patriarchs and Mosaic Law in Rabbinic Literature

Open seminar

Wednesday 7.12.2016

Abraham Tal

Memar Marqa

Close Seminar

Sunday 18.12.2016

Joseph Witztum

Adam, Eve, and Satan: Quranic Retellings

Open seminar

Sunday 8.01.2017

Jonthan Ben Dov

Early Traditions of the Watchers: Daniel, Enochic Literature and related Texts

Open seminar

Thursday 15.01.2017

David Satran

Cast out of Paradise: A Homily on the Departure from Origen's House of Study

Open seminar

Sunday 22.01.2017

Baas t. Haar Romeny


Open seminar