Raphaël Buisson-Rozensztrauch

Title: The Wise Jew and the Foreign King: Study of a Dialectic Narrative Motif in Ancient Jewish Texts

University: Université Catholique de Louvain

Supervisor: Prof. Jan Tavernier


The goal of our research project is the study and analysis of an over-looked literary motif despite its many occurrences throughout the ancient Jewish scriptures (Tanakh, Talmud and Midrash, as well as the works of Flavius Josephus): the encounter, opposition and dialogue between a figure of wisdom, incarnation of the Israelite spirituality and culture, and a royal character embodying the great civilizations culturally and geographically surrounding ancient Judah; this motif structures an antique Jewish identity and its ambivalent perspective concerning the major nations influencing and often dominating ancient Judah. Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Ethiopia and others are sometimes, but not always, depicted in opposition to the core of Jewish values: ancient Judaism opposes restrain and wisdom to the appetite for worldly pleasures and military conquest shown as characteristic of those powerful civilizations. We intend to show how entangled the Jewish texts concerning the great kings, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great in particular, are linked to each other, not only by the theme and the form of discourse itself, but also by the latter rabbinical discussions that can be found in the Mishnah, giving its structure to a fundamental principle of ancient judaism: the inherently evil nature of kings, as opposed to the purity constitutive of prophets, and more generally the superiority of spiritual authority over political power.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Judaism, Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, Persia, Medes

Thibaud Nicolas

Title: L’or du soleil : le rôle socioéconomique du temple de Shamash à Sippar à l’époque paléo-babylonienne

University: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – Paris

Supervisor: G. Chambon & D. Charpin

This PhD will focus on the socioeconomic role of the Ebabbar of Sippar during the OB period. This temple has already been widely studied for the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid period, but yet, the study of its role and function during the OId Babylonian period remains to do.
In this PhD, I aim to understand how deep the social roots of the Sippar clergy were and what interaction the Ebabbar as an institution had with the other “great organisms” such as judges, kârum and Babylon’s kings. I shall first try to show how important the temple was in the royal ideological dispositive. Then, I will try to reappraise a documentation about this Sipparian temple to understand who was doing what in it, and with what kind of socioeconomic impact. The main objective is to understand how the temple could weigh on the Old Babylonian economy not only by its own economic wealth, but also by the mean of using economic tools such as special measures and weights.
To do that, we will examine a corpus of around 400 texts, of which many have never been translated or studied. This corpus should allow us a better understanding of Old Babylonian accounting methods, the implicit information in them, and the brand new look we shall have on this vast documentation.

Contact: tnicolas.enseignant@gmail.com

William McGrath

Resurgent Babylon: A Cultural and Intellectual History of the Second Dynasty of Isin

University of Toronto

Paul-Alain Beaulieu

This Ph.D dissertation is a study of the Isin II dynasty, a Middle Babylonian dynasty consisting of eleven kings who ruled from 1157-1026 B.C. As a chapter in the history of what is sometimes termed the ‘most famous city of antiquity,’ replete with intrigue though it is, it remains opaque and relatively understudied. Building on the admirable study of Post-Kassite political history conducted by J.A. Brinkman in 1968, an updated discussion of this history will be provided with an emphasis on textual evidence which has become available since that time.

As point of departure, my research will take a holistic approach charting important developments in the social, religious and literary domains which distinguish the Isin II period. A particular focus will be on the production of literature, the intellectual history of the period, and the phenomenon of ‘canonization’. I will seek to frame lasting developments in the scholarly praxis of Mesopotamia as an outgrowth of a major religio-political reorganization occurring in Babylon at this time. More specifically, my work will posit that the re-establishment of native rule in the city of Babylon, together with the re-installment of the city-god to his temple in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I, led to a resurgence of Babylonian power and prestige that would have formative effects on cuneiform culture for the next one thousand years.