Representing gods and men in the ancient Near East and in the Bible

Representing Gods and Men

The Collège de France hosts the videos of papers delivered at the 2015 Seminar in Thomas Römer’s series The Hebrew Bible and Its Contexts, May 5-6, 2015:

Representing gods and men in the ancient Near East and in the Bible (Représenter dieux et hommes dans le Proche-Orient ancien et dans la Bible)

The videos are available for download in *.mov format.

La question des images est un élément central pour l’intelligence des religions anciennes et modernes. Les religions monothéistes se basent toutes sur le Décalogue qui interdit la fabrication des images. Mais comment comprendre cet interdit : s’agit-il d’un refus de toutes sortes d’images ou « seulement » de la représentation du divin ? Et quelle est la raison d’être d’un tel interdit ? Pourquoi considère-t-on illégitime de représenter des dieux et des hommes, ce qui fut pratique courante dans le Proche-Orient ancien ? Le colloque s’efforcera d’apporter des éclaircissements sur plusieurs questions : Quelle est la fonction des représentations du divin mais aussi des hommes ? Quelles sont les différentes manières de représenter des dieux  et quelle est la fonction de ces représentations ? Les représentations permettent-elles de mieux comprendre les cultes officiels et les cultes privés ? Quel est le rôle des images dans le culte royal ? Le roi est-il l’image des dieux ? Y a-t-il des religions aniconiques ? Pour quelles raisons décide-t-on d’interdire des images ? Y a-t-il des précurseurs au commandement biblique dans le Proche-Orient ou ailleurs ?

The question of images is a central element in the understanding of ancient and modern religions. The monotheistic religions are all based on the Decalogue, which prohibits the making of images. But how should we understand this prohibition: is it a rejection of all kinds of images or “only” of the representation of the divine? And what is the purpose of such a prohibition? Why it is considered improper to represent gods and men, which was common practice in the ancient Near East? The symposium will seek to clarify several questions: What is the function of the representations of the divine and also of men? What are the different ways of representing the gods and what is the function of these representations? Do the representations provide insight into official and private worship? What is the role of images in the royal cult? Is the king the image of the gods? Are there any aniconic religions? For what reasons does one decide to prohibit images? Are there any precursors to the biblical commandment in the ancient Near East or elsewhere?

Mardi 5 mai 2015

9 h 30 Introduction to the Symposium (Ouverture du colloque): Thomas Römer

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Présidence : Thomas Römer

13h00 Discussion

Déjeuner

Présidence : Michaël Guichard

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Présidence : Christophe Nihan

17h45 Discussion

Mercredi 6 mai 2015

Présidence : Nele Ziegler

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Présidence : Dominique Charpin

12h45 Discussion

Déjeuner

Présidence : Jean-Marie Durand

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16h45 Discussion et clôture du colloque

Aren Maeir on Philistines and Tell Es-Safi (Gath), at the Collège de France

The Collège de France website has made available the video and audio to a lecture by Professor Aren Maeir on the Philistines and the excavations at Tell Es-Safi (Gath). The lecture was delivered on February 25, 2015 at the Collège de France, and is entitled “New Perspectives on the Philistines in Light of Recent Excavations at Tell Es-Safi – Biblical Gath of the Philistines“.

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“Searching for Goliath”: Aren Maeir’s Skype Lecture on the Philistines and Tell es-Safi/ “Gath”

Professor Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University and director of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project) delivered a lecture on the Philistines called “Searching for Goliath” on January 18, 2015. He lectured from a lab at Tell es-Safi, via Skype, to students from Grand Valley State University (Allendale, Michigan).

H/t: Aren Maeir

Lawrence Stager on the Philistine City of Ashkelon

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Professor Lawrence Stager (Harvard University) gives a lecture on Ashkelon, the Seaport of the Philistines, delivered on March 4, 2013 at The University of Texas at Austin:

Explore the origins, daily life, religion, and language of the Philistines, a cosmopolitan people who occupied the great Mediterranean seaport of Ashkelon for nearly six hundred years, until its destruction and their exile by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 604 B.C. In twenty-five seasons of excavations, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon has uncovered much new evidence about the mysterious Philistines, including a rare example of one of the ancient marketplaces that linked land routes from the southeast to a web of international Mediterranean merchants. (1175-604 BC)

The lecture is available in mp3 audio format. An earlier rendition of the lecture, from May 20, 2012, is also available on video:

Lawrence Stager is is Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and is Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum. Since 1985 he has overseen the excavations of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

Aren Maeir: New Light on the Biblical Philistines

On April 23, 2014, at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, Professor Aren Maeir gave the 2014 David Kipper Ancient Israel Lecture: “New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel”. Professor Maeir discusses the evidence which challenges the theory that the Philistines arrived in a single invasion in Iron Age I. The video is now available on YouTube.

Aren Maeir is a Professor at The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University and Director of The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, The Institute of Archaeology.

The Philistines are well-known from biblical texts as one of the main adversaries of the ancient Israelites. At the same time, the biblical narrative indicates that other types of interactions also were the norm. Recent excavations in Philistia, and in particular those at Tell es-Safi, biblical Gath of the Philistines, hometown of Goliath, have provided exciting evidence of the very complex interaction between these two cultures, revealing the multi-layered facets of what could be termed a Frenemy relationship between the Philistines and Israelites. In addition, recent finds have very much changed our understanding of who the Philistines were, where they came from, and how their culture formed, transformed, and eventually disappeared. These topics will be addressed in this lecture.

h/t: Aren Maeir, The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò: “Food or Drink? Pork or Wine? The Philistines and their ‘Ethnic’ Markers”

Dr Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò, of the University of Warsaw, provides a lecture entitled “Food or Drink? Pork or Wine? The Philistines and their ‘Ethnic’ Markers”, delivered at Food, Kitchen and Cuisine in Antiquity: The First International Conference in Ancient Mediterranean and Oriental Languages and Cultures, Wrocław (Poland), June 11-13, 2013.

The aim of the paper is to review the value and usefulness of the ethnic-markers of ancient societies, based on the assumption that certain populations practice certain eating and drinking habits. In other words, the conviction that some food and drink habits may be used as reliable tools for determining the ethnicities of ancient societies, will be questioned. This argument is applied to the case of the Philistines, a population of Aegean or Aegeo-Anatolian origin, who settled in Palestine in the early twelfth century BCE.

The paper is also available for download from Academia.edu, with registration.