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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.


“Ideas and Identities in Late Antiquity: Jews, Christians, and Muslims” symposium
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Fabianinkatu 24 a, 3rd floor Common Room

Monday, 12 March, 2018

9.30–9.45 AM: Coffee & name tags
9.45–10.00: Welcome & introductions

10.00–12.00: Session I
Raimo Hakola: Jews as a Minority in the Roman world: Resistance, Assimilation or Bicultural Identities?
Antti Vanhoja: Rejection of Paul as a Means of Identity Construction – the Case of the Ebionites
Ulla Tervahauta: Violence, Ethnicity and Otherness in John Moschus’ Meadow: Christian and Jewish Identities in Byzantine Palestine
Nina Nikki: Discussant

12.00–1.30 PM: Catered lunch for speakers and discussants in the Common Room

1.30–3.00 PM: Session II
Holger Zellentin: Legal Hermeneutics and the Birth of Islam, Christianity and Judaism
Joonas Maristo & Anna-Liisa Tolonen: Death in the “Contact Zone” – Analysis of Ibn Ḥanbal’s Ḥadīṯ al-māšiṭa
Riikka Tuori: Discussant

3.00–4.00: Coffee break

4.00–5.30: Session III
Eduard Iricinschi: Manichaeans and Christians in Fourth-Century Egypt: A Building-Block Approach to Understanding Hybrid Religious Identities
Antti Lampinen: A Merchant-Geographer’s Identity? Untangling the Layers of Religious Affinity in the Expositio totius mundi et gentium
Maijastina Kahlos: Discussant

7.00 PM: Reception for speakers and discussants in the Common Room


Tuesday, 13 March, 2018

10.00–12.00: Session IV
Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila: The Life of Zarathustra: Defining the Theoretical place of Zoroastrianism in the ʿAbbāsid Empire
Janne Mattila: Sabians, the School of al-Kindī, and the Brethren of Purity
Abbas Bahmanpour: Shaykh Saduq (Ibn Babvayh): Tradionist or Reformer? Early Shiʿite Attitudes Towards the Quran
Jari Kaukua: Discussant

12.00–1.30 PM: Catered lunch for speakers and discussants in the Common Room

1.30–3.00: Session V
Iwona Gajda: The One God Ilahān / Raḥmanān: Monotheisms of Pre-Islamic South Arabia in the Context of Religious, Political and Social Evolutions in Late Antiquity
Rick Bonnie: The Survival of Synagogues in Early Islamic Galilee
Kirsi Valkama: Discussant

3.00–4.00: Coffee break

4.00–6.00: Session VI
Nicola Denzey Lewis: Discerning Religious Identities in Late Antique Rome: The Epigraphic Landscape
Maijastina Kahlos: Pagans and/or Christians? In Search for Local People in Fourth and Fifth Centuries
Ilkka Lindstedt: Jews, Christians, and Believers: Quran Surah 5 and Identity
Ismo Dunderberg: Discussant

6.00 PM: Discussion on the publication of the papers

7.00 PM: Dinner for speakers and discussants in Kuurna (Meritullinkatu 6)