Leading Talmud Scholar in Dahlem

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Daniel Boyarin Wins Alexander von Humboldt Research Award for Stay at Freie Universität / Public Lecture on June 12, 2017

‘ 061/2017 from Mar 30, 2017

The American Jewish studies scholar and professor of religion Daniel Boyarin from the University of California, Berkeley, received a research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his outstanding scholarly achievements in the field of Jewish studies. The award is linked with a research stay at Freie Universität’s Seminar for Catholic Theology during the first half of 2017. Boyarin’s host will be Rainer Kampling, a professor of Biblical theology and the New Testament at Freie Universität. On June 12, 2017, Daniel Boyarin will give a public lecture in English on "Luther’s Judenthum and the Jewish Turn to Judaism." Admission is free.

Daniel Boyarin, who was born in 1946, studied Hebrew literature and Semitic languages at Goddard College, Columbia University, New York. He earned his doctorate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America by editing a critical edition of the treatise "Nasir." He has conducted research and taught at various universities in Israel and the USA. Since 1990 he has been the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Daniel Boyarin is one of the most important representatives of Talmud research of our time. He has not only revolutionized the manner of reading the Talmudim, but he has also redefined the perception of relations between Judaism and Christianity during Late Antiquity. Through a fundamental analysis of Jewish and Christian sources, he critically re-evaluated the construction of two separate religious systems with their different cultural influences and social effects. In doing so, he established a new historical and theological paradigm concerning the perception and interpretation of religious traditions.

During his stay at Freie Universität Berlin, Daniel Boyarin will be completing a book manuscript entitled The History of Judaism. A Philological Investigation, in which he explains his concept of the term Judaism. Boyarin argues that the term was not used as such by Jewish authors before the late 19th century because Jewry had not previously considered itself a ‘religion’ or owner of religion. Using semantic analyses, he will show that neither Ioudaismos nor yahadut means the same thing as Judaism. It was only in the 18th century that German-speaking Jews began to use the term Judentum, and it was not until the late nineteenth century that yahadut was introduced by Jews as a denomination for their ‘religion.’ According to Boyarin, this step was an integral part of the confessionalization of Jewry at this time.


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