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Lecture: “Priesthood in the Era of Torah,” presented by Professor Martha Himmelfarb of Princeton University

Thursday, May 24, 2018 • 10 Sivan 5778

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Jews in the Second Temple period lived under foreign rule. The central institutions uniting them were the Temple and the Torah, each associated with a particular class of experts: for the Temple, priests, a hereditary class that claimed descent from Aaron; for the Torah, scribes, a professional group open at least in theory to any suitably talented Jewish man. Tension between priests and scribes was perhaps inevitable given that the Torah contains laws for the running of the Temple, yet both groups were deeply committed to the Temple and the practices associated with it. In my lecture, I will discuss some of the ways these tensions manifested themselves and some of the approaches ancient Jews took to rethinking the significance of priesthood. Among the texts I will discuss are passages from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Book of Watchers (a section of I Enoch), the Wisdom of ben Sira, and the book of Jubilees.

*Please include the names of those attending in the notes. 

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January 18,2019 /  12 Shevat 5779