“Jerusalem among the Gentiles”: Jerusalem as “Realm of Memory” (lieux de mémoire) in the Pagan Greek and Latin Collective Memory

My second paper proposal for this year’s SBL Annual Meeting in Boston is scheduled for 11/20/2017, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM.

The paper is concerned with an issue of space and will be read in the “Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity” section (Chairs: Eric C. Smith und Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre).

The title of my paper is: “Jerusalem among the Gentiles”: Jerusalem as “Realm of Memory” (lieux de mémoire) in the Pagan Greek and Latin Collective Memory. It is the first step in a new book project that takes up the concept of “realms of memory” (lieux de mémoire, “Erinnerungsorte”) of the French historian Pierre Nora in order to apply it to Luke-Acts.

Here is the text of my proposal:

An important point in considering spaces and places in antiquity is that places and locations are not only topographic items. The French historian Pierre Nora has pointed out that places and locations are focal points of collective memories and social identities that survive over generations. He calls this phenomenon “realms of memory” (lieux de mémoire). The paper takes up this methodological approach and applies it to Jerusalem, which is obviously an prominent location of collective memories and social identities in Judaism and Christianity. But Jerusalem is such a focal point not only in ancient texts of Jewish and Christian origin, but also in pagan Greek and Latin sources. In comparison with references to Jerusalem in Greek and Latin literature from the hellenistic times, the paper reconstructs how Jerusalem emerges as focal point of collective memories of the pagan elites in the Roman Empire. In the sources, particularly military encounters between the Romans and Jerusalem (under Pompeius, Titus, Hadrian) are in focus. If possible, Jewish sources (e.g. Josephus) are compared in order to shape the specific interests and purposes of the pagan sources. The paper discusses historiographic and further sources from the era of the Roman Empire (e.g. Martial, Juvenal, Philostrat) as well as numismatic and archeological remains (e.g. the Arch of Titus in Rome) in order to reconstruct Jerusalem as focal point of Roman collective memories, i.e., as “realm of memory” of Roman elites.

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