Lecture by Laura Lieber: An Unholy Spectacle: The Ordeal of the Accused Adulteress in the Early Synagogue

WhenJanuary 29, 2020 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
WhereSwift Hall, Common Room
Contact InformationDivinity School
DescriptionLaura Lieber, Duke University, will lecture on “An Unholy Spectacle: The Ordeal of the Accused Adulteress in the Early Synagogue” on Wednesday, January 29th, 4:30pm, Common Room.

Using the trial of the accused adulteress (the sotah) from Numbers 5 as a case study, this paper argues for the inclusion of Jewish liturgical poetry as part of the classical rabbinic canon. The biblical account of the sotah, as mediated through the lens of classical rabbinic sources and synagogue literatures, displays how rabbinic writings and non-canonical Jewish sources provided fodder for liturgical and exegetical creativity. At the same time, the rabbinic and liturgical writings reveal how Jews were fully embedded in the complex and dynamic cultural milieu of Late Antiquity, and we will pay particular attention to how synagogue ritual was shaped by broader conventions of performance and emerging aesthetic conventions.

Laura Suzanne Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, where she directs the Duke Center for Jewish Studies as well as the Elizabeth A. Clark Center for Late Ancient Studies. She holds secondary appointments in Classics, German Language and Literature, and the Duke Divinity School. A native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lieber received a BA in English Literature and Classics from the University of Arkansas, rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and a PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago. Prior to coming to Duke, she was Assistant Professor of Classics and Religion at Middlebury College. Her most recent books are A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue (2014) and Jewish Aramaic Poetry from Antiquity (2018); her forthcoming volume, Classical Samaritan Poetry, will be published in 2020. She has held ACLS and National Humanities Center fellowships, and grants from the American Philosophical Society and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture have supported her research. Her current book project, Staging the Sacred: Performance in Late Ancient Liturgical Poetry, is under contract with Oxford University Press.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Lectures
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