AMME Seminar on 27 May: "New Women and Old Men: Comparative Views on Origin Stories"

The theme of our May AMME session is “New Women and Old Men: Comparative Views on Origin Stories”.

Join us for the May Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) Seminar on Thursday 27 May 2021 at 4:15-6 pm EET time in Zoom (Meeting ID: 623 2259 2487).

Our speakers:

  • Katja von Schöneman (University of Helsinki): “Creation of Woman in Islamic Interpretive Tradition and beyond”.

The study examines the diachronic development of Islamic exegetic discourse on the Qurʾanic passage ḫalaqakum min nafsin wāḥidatin wa-ḫalaqa minhā zawjahā in verse 4:1, customarily read as the creation of the first couple, Adam and Eve. My feminist discourse-analytic exploration, focusing on commentaries of pre-modern Sunni and Shiʿi exegetes from the 9th to the 17th centuries, reveals that commentary material both accumulated and transformed along similar hermeneutical trajectories comprising three distinctive discursive stages. The first stage establishes the lore on Eve’s creation in dismissive terms, and the second one strengthens these misogynous views so that, for example, the potential substance of Eve’s creation becomes even more negligible. The concept is expanded during the third discursive stage so that the woman becomes created for the man to provide service and entertainment, among her other practical functions. Her creation is used to justify gender hierarchy, even the seclusion of women. An equivalent evolution of interpretations can also be seen in late antique Jewish exegeses extant in the form of rabbinic literature. 

  • Jessi Orpana (University of Helsinki): “Rebranding the Patriarchs: Abraham as a Case Study”.

This presentation provides an analysis of the intentional rebranding of the figure of Abraham in early Judaism. The depictions and agency of Abraham are attested in Genesis, the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls, and Jubilees that provide diachronically arrangeable clues to the transmission and development of the Abraham tradition. Comparative reading of these sources reveals both continuity and innovation in the transmission, reception, and rewriting of Abraham traditions.

The session takes place Thursday 27 May at 4:15-6 pm EET time ONLINE in Zoom (Meeting ID: 623 2259 2487).