Alex P. Jassen gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Wednesday, October 11, at 12:15 pm. His talk was entitled “On the Emergence of Jewish Cultural Practice in the Second Century BCE.”

This talk examines the emergence of distinctive Jewish practices in the second century BCE associated with the observance of Torah. Prior to the second century BCE, aspects of Jewish ritual practice either existed in purely literary terms or were confined to small circles of priestly elites. While the “common” Jew seems to have participated in aspects of broad Jewish ritual practice, there is little evidence for the widespread observance of Jewish law prior to the second century BCE. This talk draws upon literary and archaeological sources in order to explore this shift in Jewish practice. What exactly does Jewish law and its performance mean for Jews in the second century BCE?

Alex P. Jassen is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Director of Graduate Studies in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He holds a BA in Jewish Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Washington and a PhD in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. Dr. Jassen previously taught at the University of Minnesota, where he was the recipient of the university’s prestigious McKnight Land-Grant Fellowship. He has published widely on the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient Judaism and is a member of the international editorial team responsible for publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is the author of Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (Brill, 2007), winner of the 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise; Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cambridge University Press, 2014); as well as many articles and reviews; and co-editor of Scripture, Violence, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity (Brill, 2010). Dr. Jassen is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ancient Judaism (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht). He served as academic advisor for The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. He is a popular lecturer at community centers, synagogues, churches, and museums. Dr. Jassen was featured in CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery (2017). He is currently working on a book on religious violence in the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient Judaism. His work on religious violence has been recognized with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This event is part of the Leon Levy Foundation Lectures in Jewish Material Culture. Additional support provided by The David Berg Foundation.