In the upcoming year, the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies will focus on the theme of “Second Temple Judaism: The Challenge of Diversity.” Diversity of ethnicity, religion, social status, gender, age, and ability was as much a feature of the ancient Mediterranean world as it is in the present. Under the leadership of head fellow and U-M Professor of Middle East Studies and Judaic Studies, Gabriele Boccaccini, thirteen scholars from four countries will explore various aspects of religious, cultural, and political life during the period dating from the age of the Persian King Cyrus in the sixth-century BCE up to the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the second century of the Common Era.

The modern notion of Second Temple Judaism was originally shaped by Christian scholars who imagined it as the “intertestamental” period between the Old and the New Testaments, or as the “age of Jesus.” Jewish scholars were originally uncomfortable with this periodization, only gradually accepting the notion that a significant transition in Judaism also occurred between the “Biblical” and “Rabbinic” eras, or “from the Bible to the Mishnah.” Second Temple Judaism, however, is much more than just a combination of “proto-Rabbinic” and “proto-Christian” traditions. Rather, it was the seedbed for multiple, distinctive worldviews. The central texts of the period include the New Testament, the works of Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the rich literature of Hellenistic Judaism, all of which can be studied together with archaeological finds to reveal new perspectives on this landmark era in Abrahamic traditions.

The fellows will share their scholarship via several events taking place throughout the year, organized in collaboration with the Enoch Seminar. On September 30 Gabriele Boccaccini will give an online presentation about his book on Paul as a Second Temple Jew, featuring Lisa Bowens (Princeton Theological Seminary), Isaac Oliver (Bradley University), Matthew Novenson (University of Edinburgh), Cecilia Wassen (Uppsala University), and Emma Wasserman (Rutgers University). On October 25-27, 2021 the Frankel Institute will host fellows, as well as other international scholars for an online conference: “Was Paul an Apocalyptic Jew? A Case in Jewish Diversity in the Second Temple Period.” On January 10-13, 2022 a second online conference, “Studies in Second Temple Judaism: A Global Enterprise,” will feature fellows, and international scholars. There will also be an in-person workshop featuring Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University) and John Collins (Yale University) on April 12-14, 2022. All events are free and open to the public.

The Frankel Institute aims to develop fruitful conversation about ancient Jewish diversity. Through the study of literature, sacred texts, art, and material objects, the fellows will study an array of related topics including temple architecture, the meaning of sacrifice, the nature of ancient leadership, and circumcision. By bringing together a group of international scholars who approach the material from different perspectives in an interdisciplinary and inclusive fashion, the Frankel Institute seeks to contribute to our understanding of the vibrant diversity of Second Temple Judaism and redefine its place within Jewish Studies. 

The 2021–22 Frankel fellows and their fields of research are:

Oren Ableman, Israel Antiquities Authority, “Resistance to Rome in Late Second Temple Jewish Literature”

Joseph Angel, Yeshiva University, “The Architecture of Election: Temple Architecture and the Construction of Social Identities in Ancient Judaism”

Gabriele Boccaccini, University of Michigan, “Christian and Rabbinic Origins: An Intellectual History, from Daniel to the Mishnah”

Catherine Bonesho, University of California, Los Angeles, “Kings, Queens, and Caesars: Gentile Rulers in Early Jewish Literature”

Rodney Caruthers, Gustavus Adolphus College, “Judaism and its Practice Beyond Ethiopian Rivers”

Kelley Bautch Coblentz, St. Edward's University, “Recovering Diverse Voices in 1 Maccabees”

Liane Feldman, New York University, “Rewriting Sacrifice in Second Temple Judaism”

Gregg Gardner, University of British Columbia, “The Archaeology of Diversity in Rural Palestine During the Second Temple Era”

Michael Langlois, University of Strasbourg, “Pseudepigraphy Between Canonical and Non-Canonical Literature”

Mark Leuchter, Temple University, “Scribal Refractions of Imperial Myth in Jewish Texts of the Persian Period”

Shayna Sheinfeld, Sheffield University, “Diversity in Jewish Leadership in the First and Second Centuries CE”

Alexei Sivertsev, DePaul University, “Semiotic Communities: Signs and the Construction of Jewish Group Identities in the Second Temple Period”

M Tong, Interdenominational Theological Center, “Difference and Circumcision”