Enoch Seminar Online 2020: The Origin of Evil in Second Temple Judaism

Enoch Seminar Online 2020: The Origin of Evil in Second Temple Judaism May 8, 2020

I am delighted that the Enoch Seminar, a forward-thinking organization by its very nature, was very quick to adjust to the uncertainty created by the pandemic and to organize an online meeting for the summer of 2020. As with all Enoch Seminar meetings, this is an event with invited papers and attendees. If you are an academic who works in a field related to the topic, however, you should feel free to reach out to one of the session organizers about the possibility of being invited. I’m involved where you might expect, i.e. in the session in which the Mandaeans can be a natural part of the conversation.

 The key details (as they have taken shape thus far) are below, and there’s more information on the Enoch Seminar website.

2020 Enoch Seminar Online

Title: Concepts of Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins

Participation is by invitation only. It is not a public conference (in streaming), but a workshop among invited specialists.

Chairs: Gabriele Boccaccini and Lorenzo DiTommaso (with Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Loren Stuckenbruk and Jason Zurawski)

Tentative Date : June 29 – July 1-2 (Monday – Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday)

Daily schedule (Eastern American Time): 10am-11:30am / 12:00pm-1:30pm / 2:30pm-4pm

Topics (to be decided): Suggested questions for each of the main sessions:

Description (by the Chairs)

Our Approach to this Online Seminar

Participants should keep in mind that the tenor of their presentations/responses ought to be prospective rather than retrospective. A survey of past work is not appropriate here, nor is the statement of an issue that has been “chewed over” for a long time. We seek, instead, new ideas, theses, or approaches. A statement of a major issue or question that has come to light in view of recent scholarship would be excellent, as well, especially if it is “thick,” in the sense that it contains ideas that could be unpacked and debated in group discussion for mutual profit.

Time Allotted for Each Presentation and Response

Each presentation is only 10-15 minutes and each response is 5 minutes in length. Unlike in-person Enoch Seminars, we do not require participants to pre-circulate their papers. Thus, the emphasis is on brevity, clarity, and, to a certain degree, generality, at least within the session parameters. Accordingly, participants should expect that they will be given ample time to revise/amplify their ideas for publication in the conference volume, ideally in dialogue with the formal responses (which, as discussed, will also be published) and informal group discussion.

The Nature of the Seminar

For this Online Seminar, questions posed are intended to be quite open-ended. On the one hand, this allows panelists and respondents maximum room for exploration within the compass of the session topic. On the other hand, we are issuing invitations to targeted specialists in the expectation they require the least in the way of guidance and have the most likelihood of sizing up the question and offering meaningful responses to it. For this reason, participation is by invitation only. It is not a public conference (in streaming), but a workshop among invited specialists.

A New Kind of Conference for this Distinctive Moment

This will be a new kind of conference experience for most of us. We’ve tweaked a few things in order to accommodate the new medium, according us maximum fluidity in the conference architecture without sacrificing traditional scientific rigour. We are excited that the Enoch Seminar is taking this initiative in light of the current moment and given the likelihood that online platforms will continue to be important and omnipresent in various academic contexts. The Seminar means to carry on despite these difficult times, not only to maintain continuity and connexions, but also because the Republic of Letters, of which we are citizens, may bend with stormy winds but will not break.


Monday, June 29, 2020: Opening Session

12:00pm- 1:30pm — Welcome and Opening Remarks. “Awards Ceremony”

  • “Enoch Seminar Life Achievement Award” to honor Paolo Sacchi, George Nickelsburg, Robert Kraft, Michael Knibb, Michael Stone, Deborah Dimant, and James Charlesworth, “in gratitude for their exceptional contribution to the field of Second Temple Jewish Studies and their generous service in the Enoch Seminar.”
  • Presenters: Gabriele Boccaccini, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Annette Reed, John Collins, Jonathan Ben-Dov, Loren Stuckenbruck

2:30pm-4pm [Chair Lorenzo DiTommaso] — 3. What was the nature and extent of Zoroastrian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greco-Roman influences on the diverse notions of evil in Second Temple Judaism?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

Tuesday, June 30, 2020: Three sessions

10am-11:30am [Chair Kelley Bautch] — 2. Which are the different ways in which evil was understood to enter into the world? Which historical or social circumstances prompted the preference from one or the other? Was it a case of a religious development in response to fundamental changes in the religious environment? In both cases, where and why?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

12:00pm-1:30pm [Chair Jason Zurawski] — 4. How do non-apocalyptic texts of the period engage with the issue of the origin of evil and the theological problems it raises? Is there literary evidence, explicit or implicit, for contemporary debate regarding the existence of multiple explanations for the origin of evil in the world, particularly regarding the ways that each explanation addresses theological and existential issues?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

2:30pm-4pm [Chair Lorenzo DiTommaso] — 5. Are evil human or superhuman figures a necessary and functional part of the earliest expressions of evil, or did they develop later?
  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 — Three sessions

10am-11:30am [Chair Loren Stuckenbruck] — 6. The origin of evil in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

12:00pm-1:30pm [Chair Gabriele Boccaccini] — 7. How is the problem of evil and its origin addressed in the Parables of Enoch and the Synoptics?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

2:30pm-4pm [Chair Gabriele Boccaccini] — 8. Do Paul and John stand in line with trajectories already evident in the Synoptics and Jewish apocalyptic literature of the era, or do they represent a new direction? Do we have evidence of divergent notions on the origin of evil in the early Jesus movement?

  • Panelists: Gabriele Boccaccini / Adele Reinhartz / Benjamin Reynolds
  • Respondents: TBA

Thursday, July 2, 2020 — Three sessions & Conclusion

10am-11:30am [Chair Jason Zurawski] — 9. How is the problem of evil and its origin addressed in Rabbinic literature? Does it/they stand in line with trajectories already evident in the Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period, or does it represent a wholly new explanation?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA

12:00pm-1:30pm [Chair Kelley Bautch] — 10. How is the problem of evil and its origin addressed in “gnostic” (Valentinian, Sethian, Mandaean) literature? Do they stand in line with trajectories already evident in the Second Temple Period, or represent a wholly new explanation?

  • Panelists: James McGrath, Alberto Camplani
  • Respondents: TBA

2:30pm-4pm [Chair Loren Stuckenbruck] — 1. If “apocalyptic is the mother of theology,” is the problem of evil the mother of “apocalyptic”?

  • Panelists: TBA
  • Respondents: TBA
  • 4-5pm – Wrap up session. Final comments.

Confirmed Participants

  • #@ Paul Anderson (George Fox University, USA)
  • Luca Arcari (University of Naples, Italy)
  • # Kenneth Atkinson (University of Northern Iowa, USA)
  • #@ Harold W. Attridge (Yale University, USA)
  • # Florentina Badalova Keller (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
  • #@ Albert I. Baumgarten (Bar-Ilan University, Israel)
  • Kelley Coblentz Bautch (St Edward’s University, USA)
  • Giovanni Bazzana (Harvard University, USA)
  • @ Gabriele Boccaccini (University of Michigan, USA)
  • # Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary, USA)
  • Miryam T. Brand (USA)
  • # Piero Capelli (University of Venice, Italy)
  • Alberto Camplani (University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy)
  • Rodney Caruthers (Ashland Theological Seminary, USA)
  • # John & Adela Collins (Yale University, USA)
  • # Sidnie White Crawford (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA)
  • April DeConick (Rice University, USA)
  • Lorenzo DiTommaso (Concordia University Montreal, Canada)
  • # Jan Dochhorn (Durham University, England)
  • Rachel Dryden (PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge, England)
  • # Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College, Norway)
  • Jason von Ehrenkrook (USA)
  • @ Deborah Forger (Dartmouth College, USA)
  • # Steven Fraade (Yale University, USA)
  • Ida Froelich (Catholic University Budapest, Hungary)
  • # Angela Kim Harkins (Boston College, USA)
  • #@ Matthias Henze (Rice University, USA)
  • David R. Jackson (Australia)
  • Paul Kim (Methodist Theological School in Ohio, USA)
  • Alexander Kulik (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
  • # Mark Leuchter (Temple University, USA)
  • # John R. (Jack) Levison (Southern Methodist University, USA)
  • # Liv Ingeborg Lied (Norwegian School of Theology, Norway)
  • # Timothy Lim (University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Paul Mandel (Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Israel)
  • James McGrath (USA)
  • Eric Noffke (Waldensian School of Theology, Italy)
  • @ Gerbern Oegema (McGill University, Canada)
  • Isaac Oliver (USA)
  • #@ Andrei Orlov, Marquette University (USA)
  • Chad Pierce
  • # Annette Reed (New York University, USA)
  • Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa, Canada)
  • Benjamin Reynolds (Tyndale University, Canada)
  • Joshua Scott (PhD Candidate, University of Michigan, USA)
  • Ryan Stokes
  • # Michael Stone (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Loren Stuckenbruck (University of Munich, Germany)
  • David Suter (USA)
  • # Joan Taylor (King’s College London, England)
  • # Benjamin Wold (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Archie Wright (Regent University, USA)
  • Ben Wright (USA)
  • Jason Zurawski (University of Groningen, Netherlands)

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