Julia Rhyder (Ph.D., University of Lausanne, Switzerland) is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her research on the Hebrew Bible embraces a broad approach to the study of biblical texts that focuses not only on their contexts of composition but also on their transmission and reception in ancient Judaism. Rhyder’s first book, Centralizing the Cult: The Holiness Legislation in Leviticus 17–26 (Mohr Siebeck, 2019) was the joint winner of the 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise. Rhyder has published widely in edited collections and journals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, Dead Sea Discoveries, and Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. She is co-editor of Text and Ritual in the Pentateuch: A Systematic and Comparative Approach (Eisenbrauns, 2021) and has served as guest editor for the journals Semitica and Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel. In 2021, Julia Rhyder was honored with the David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship. Her current book project, begun as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Basel, explores the commemoration of warfare in festivals of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple traditions.
Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest, April 2 – 3, 2022
Celebrating War: Festivals and War Commemoration in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Traditions
The Hebrew Bible and Second Temple traditions are replete with narratives of warfare and collective violence. But relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to the way in which these accounts of violence affected the way that ancient Israelites structured their festal calendar. In this talk, we trace the emergence of festivals that recall military victories in ancient Israel, from the festival of Passover and Purim to the new celebrations of the Maccabees, most famously the festival of Hanukkah. Biblical materials that pre-date the Hellenistic period show only a limited interest in commemorating warfare, however prevalent their narratives of violence; but early Jewish writings from the Hellenistic age, in contrast, resort more commonly to the celebration of military victories. This change, it is argued, reflects a conviction that the memory of warfare could serve as a key means to legitimize monarchs and to promote the political agency of Jews within the Hellenistic Mediterranean.