“The Bible Across Cultures: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment,” a series of four lectures sponsored by Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at UMass Amherst, explores the Bible as a meeting ground for intercultural exchange. Employing comparative historical and literary methods of analysis, and by highlighting interpretive strategies in the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds, the series draws attention to the role of the Bible in the broader study of the humanities. Each of the subjects discussed in the series – violence, collective memory, Jewish and Christian interpretation, and the confluence of English translations of Bible and Greek epic poetry – offers a fascinating example of cross-cultural inquiry.
SECOND LECTURE IN THE SERIES: "City-Lament and Collective Memory in Qohelet (Ecclesiastes)"
Jennie Barbour, Amherst College and UMass Amherst
The book of Ecclesiastes and its speaker Qohelet are famous for saying that there is 'nothing new under the sun'. In the literary tradition of the modern West this has been taken as the motto of a book that is universal in scope, Greek in its patterns of thought, and floating free from the particularism and historical concerns of the rest of the Bible. But while Qohelet says nothing about the great founding events of Israel's story, the book is haunted by the decline and fall of the nation and the Babylonian exile, as the trauma of the loss of the kingdom of Solomon persists through a spectrum of intertextual relationships; Ecclesiastes is not simply a piece of marketplace philosophy, but a learned essay in processing a community's memory.
All lectures in this series, sponsored by the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, are free and open to the public. All venues are on campus and wheel-chair accessible.