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The Levitical Jubilee and the Utopian Present

A key component of the legislation for the jubilee in Leviticus 25 is its announcement every fifty years. Beginning in the third century BCE, Judean literature begins employing a number of chronographic schemata, including the Levitical jubilee, to account for the progress of long spans of time and highlight significant transitions between those periods. In this paper, I examine works from early Judaism that develop even further the use of the fifty-year jubilee cycle as a chronographic device. While these works follow the trajectory of adapting the jubilee as a chronographic schema, I will argue that these works exhibit a trajectory of adapting the jubilee from a chronographic schema that speaks to a specific present into a signifier of an ever-changing eschatological present, always on the cusp of the realization of the author’s utopian hopes.

Jonathan Kaplan (Ph.D. Harvard University) is a scholar of Ancient Judaism whose research and teaching focuses on the study of the Hebrew Bible and the history of its interpretation in the Second Temple and early Rabbinic periods. His first book, My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Reading of Song of Songs (Oxford University Press, 2015), is a study of the interpretations of the Song of Songs contained in the earliest compilations of rabbinic interpretation of the Bible, which are known as the tannaitic midrashim. Prior to joining the faculty of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he served for two years as a Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Postdoctoral Associate in the Judaic Studies Program at Yale University.

The Islamic Studies & Middle Eastern Studies Colloquium is an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff across the University to present research on the study of Islam and the Muslim world. Colloquium meetings aim to provide presentation experience and constructive feedback on work in progress, as well as to foster discussion and a sense of cohort among the Islamic studies community on campus.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Calhoun Hall (CAL), 516
204 21ST ST W, Austin, Texas 78705

Event Type

Academics, Arts & Humanities, World & Culture


All Departments

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Students, Staff, Faculty, Alumni, General Public


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