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Ideas and Identities in Late Antiquity: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

A symposium organized at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland, Monday–Tuesday, March 12–13, 2018.

Scholarly focus of the symposium
The symposium will bring together scholars of late antique Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with a special emphasis on the scholarly comparison of the religious traditions and application of modern theory to ancient texts and social realities.
The symposium will address questions such as: How did Jews formulate their identities during this period and, on the other hand, how are they portrayed in Christian and Muslim literatures? How did religious and literary texts construct and maintain ingroup identities of the three religious communities? What is the function of various outsiders, such as “pagans” and the Qurʾānic mushrikūn (“associators”), in this process? How did the religious communities interact socially in light of archaeological evidence? From a cognitive and cultural evolutionary point of view, which particularities of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideas were crucial for drawing the boundaries to other religious groups and, furthermore, help explain their success (or the lack thereof) during the late antique period? The participants use a variety of sources in different languages to tackle these issues: religious, historical, and literary texts, papyri, inscriptions, archaeology, and so on.

The symposium is open for students and researchers to participate as audience.