Department of Religious Studies

Picking Up the Pieces: Re-Figuring Jerusalem & Rome in Late Antiquity

Mon, March 26, 2012 | ACE 2.302

1:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Picking Up the Pieces: Re-Figuring Jerusalem & Rome in Late Antiquity

Primary sponsors: UT Austin Late Antiquity Workshop (under the auspices of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies) and the Institute for the Study of Antiquity & Christian Origins (ISAC)

Co-sponsors: The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies; Department of Religious Studies at UT Austin; Harrington Fellowship Program, UT Austin Office of the President

This symposium explores how Jerusalem and Rome were re-invigorated as actual urban spaces and re-imagined in cultural memory over the course of late antiquity in response to the disruptive crises each experienced. Rather than following the narrative of the decline that has so often been applied to the fate of the post-classical city, the four papers to be presented at the symposium take their lead from scholars like Annabel Wharton who have highlighted the ongoing and dynamic transformation of the ancient Mediterranean city in the late Roman and early Byzantine period (third to sixth centuries). While Jerusalem and Rome are exceptional in many respects, each also provides an excellent lens through which to consider the cultural strategies and resources available to those who might seek to maintain the sacral status of cities facing historical rupture. As the remains of both literary and material culture attest, Jerusalem and Rome could be revitalized in a wide variety of ways: through alternations in the ritual use of space; through the restoration of their architectural monuments or their replication elsewhere; through pilgrimage or through the dispersal of relics and other sacred artifacts; and, in all cases, through the narration—and ongoing renarration—of local histories. The symposium will thus illuminate how Jerusalem and Rome would survive antiquity not only as living cities in their own right, but perhaps more importantly as primary models in Western culture for the construction and authorization of urban spaces as arenas of political and religious power and meaning.


1:00–2:45pm: Session 1

Welcome: Na‘ama Pat-El, UT Austin
Chair: Martha Newman, UT Austin

  • Oded Irshai, Hebrew University, currently visiting at Yale University: “The Bones of St. Stephen, the Jewish Patriarchate, and Local Patriotism in Christian Jerusalem”
  • Ra‘anan Boustan, UCLA; currently Harrington Faculty Fellow at UT Austin: “Jewish and Christian ‘Holy Face’ Relics from Jerusalem to (New) Rome”
  • Respondent: L. Michael White, UT Austin

2:45–3:00: Coffee Break

3:00–4:45: Session 2

Chair: Steven Friesen, UT Austin

  • Joshua Burns, Marquette University: “The Synagogue of Severus: Spacing Divine Authority in Imperial Rome”
  • Michele Salzman, UC Riverside: “Strategies of Visuality: A Papal Moving Liturgy and Rome’s Senatorial Elite”
  • Respondent: Karl Galinsky, UT Austin

4:45–5:30: Reception

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