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Séminaire du Centre Paul-Albert Février : "Style, Sacrifice, and Society in the Ancient Synagogue"

Le Centre Paul-Albert Février accueille Michael D. Swartz (The Ohio State University), mardi 8 octobre 2013, de 17 à 19h, salle 7, MMSH.

===) "Style, Sacrifice, and Society in the Ancient Synagogue"

Michael D. Swartz est professeur à l’université de l’Ohio (États-Unis). Il est notamment spécialiste d’histoire du judaïsme dans l’Antiquité tardive et d’études rabbiniques.

- Voir sa page personnelle sur le site de l’université de l’Ohio

Résumé / Abstract

Understanding the nature and function of sacrifice is essential to the study ancient of religions and civilizations. More than this, it is important understand how ancient people themselves thought about sacrifice and how it worked.

This lecture will examine how one of the central sacrificial rituals, the ritual of purification and atonement on Yom Kippur described in chapter 16 of the biblical book of Leviticus, was understood and described by ancient Jews centuries after the destruction of their Temple made that sacrifice obsolete.

The lecture will begin with a brief description of how that sacrifice is depicted on the literature of the ancient rabbis, the scholastic leaders of Judaism after the first century of the Christian era, and then move to another literature, the poetry of the ancient synagogue.

The principal sources will be the tractate Yoma of the Mishnah, completed soon after 200 CE ; and an elaborate set of liturgical poems known as the Avodah piyyutim, written sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries.

All of these sources describe the sacrifice at Yom Kippur in the ancient Temple in different ways. The Mishnah and the Avodah piyyutim can be seen as forms of sustained thinking on the nature of sacrifice, its purpose and operation, and its place in cosmos and society, an enterprise that can be called ancient ritual theory. At the same time, the Mishnah and the Avodah differ substantially in such matters as their attitude to the priesthood and the centrality of the cult.

To show how these different groups of Jewish leadership dealt with the problem of sacrifice, we will compare the Mishnah’s description of the Yom Kippur ritual with the Avodah piyyutim, which were based on the Mishnah but depart from it in significant ways. The ancient Rabbis who compiled the Mishnah and the commentaries that followed it in the third to fifth centuries composed it to be memorized, recited, and studied in schoolhouses and study circles. The synagogue poets performed their elaborate and diverse compositions as prayer leaders representing the congregation before God. Although these two sectors of Jewish society in late antiquity were intimately related, they formed two interlocking centers of cultural production. We will also pay attention not simply to what these literatures have to say, but how they say it and how their literary styles reflect their function. I will argue that each type of text asserts the centrality of the sacrificial idea in different ways. By calling into question the integrity and education of the High Priest, the Mishnah lives without the Temple not simply by reconstructing it verbally, but by subverting it as well. At the same time, the Avodah piyyutim tend to valorize the High Priest, and through its elaborate, ornamental poetic style, presents the art of prayer as a form of sacrifice.

- Consultez le programme 2013/2014 du séminaire du CPAF