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Roman Statues, Rabbis, and Graeco-Roman Culture (lecture)

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free; a ticket is required.

Public sculptures were the mass media of the Roman world, populating urban centers throughout the Roman empire and creating a "plastic language" that communicated political, religious, and social messages. How did the Jews function within this visual environment, given the conflicts and tensions that purportedly divided them from the Romans?

Historian Yaron Z. Eliav discusses how the Jews viewed Roman statuary and how their daily interaction with the artifacts was characterized by a wide spectrum of ideas and experiences. Focusing on rabbinic material and studying it within the broad context of Graeco-Roman views of statues, Eliav reveals how the rabbis' rulings on Roman statuary, far from expressing hostility toward all manifestations of the dominant culture, instead reflected the discerning attitudes of a minority group within the Roman world—a group that strove to shape its own way of life by utilizing a profound awareness of the surrounding cultural and physical landscapes.

About Yaron Z. Eliav
Yaron Z. Eliav is Jean and Samuel Frankel Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and associate professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan and co-director of the Statuary Project, a multi-year research endeavor focusing on the sculptural environment of the Roman Near East. He draws on talmudic, early Christian, and classical literatures as well as archaeology to explore the multi-faceted cultural environment of Roman Palestine, with an emphasis on the encounter between Jews and Graeco-Roman culture. Eliav is author of numerous books and articles on Jews in the ancient world, including God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Space, and Memory, which won the 2005 American Association of Publishers award for best scholarly book on religion and the 2006 Salo Baron prize for best first book in Judaic Studies from the American Academy for Jewish Studies. He is currently working on a new book, A Jew in the Roman Bathhouse: Daily Life Encounters with Hellenism in Roman Palestine.

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.

Statuette of Jupiter / Roman

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