The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (www.ochjs.ac.uk) is pleased to be able to offer postdoctoral visiting fellowships to one or two junior scholars to join the Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies on ‘Israel in Egypt’ in January to June 2016. Applicants, who should be about to complete a doctorate or have completed a doctorate since December 2012, should send curricula vitae, research proposals relating to the Seminar and two academic references to Martine Smith-Huvers (registrar@ochjs.ac.uk) by 1 December 2015, stating whether the application is for January to March or April to June 2016.

Israel in Egypt/Egypt in Israel:

An investigation of the land of Egypt as concept and reality for Jews in Antiquity and the early medieval period.

  • Project leaders:  Prof Alison Salvesen (University of Oxford)
  • Prof Sarah Pearce (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Miriam Frenkel (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

The ‘Israel in Egypt’ project addresses a number of questions about identity and belonging among Egyptian Jews over the course of one and a half millennia.

For Jews in ancient and medieval Palestine and the Diaspora, the land of Egypt was a real place and also an abstract notion shaped by scriptural texts. The nation-defining episode of the Exodus of the Israelites, the unequivocal injunction in the Torah not to return to Egypt (Deut 17:16) and the negative attitude of biblical writers in general towards Egypt, existed in tension with the fact of Jewish residence there. Jewish settlements in Egypt ranged from the time of Jeremiah, to the Jewish military garrison in Elephantine during the Persian period, to major settlements and above all the huge urban community in Alexandria under the Ptolemies and Romans. Though all these disappear in the second century following the revolt of 115–17 CE and the extermination of the Jews of Egypt under Trajan, the presence of Jews is attested again in the fifth century by patristic writers, and then through Byzantine and Islamic rule into the medieval period, principally by the documents preserved in the Cairo Geniza.

Key sources for Jewish life in Egypt include the Aramaic Elephantine documents and a large corpus of Greek papyri written about or by Jews, the Zenon papyri, Jewish inscriptions from Leontopolis, Demerdash and other sites, the wide range of Hellenistic Jewish literature including the bulk of the LXX, the works of Philo of Alexandria, and the writings of Flavius Josephus. For the early Islamic period there are many papyri bearing indirect testimony to Jewish life in Egypt, and for the medieval period there is the vast collection of documents produced by Jews and preserved for centuries in the Cairo Geniza.

Weekly seminars will be convened through the duration of two Oxford terms, 17th January to 12th March, and 24th April to 18th June 2016. These will offer a forum for the Fellows of the project to address central research topics related to the overall theme of the seminar. The findings of the Research Project will be presented at a concluding conference on 20th and 21st June 2016.

The Postdoctoral Visiting Fellows, who must be resident in Oxford during the term, will each receive a stipend of £2,500 per calendar month (pro rata) for the period of tenure and travelling expenses up to £500.

Closing date for applications: 1 December 2015. Notification of outcome: by mid-December 2015.

For more detailed information, contact:

Professor Alison Salvesen alison.salvesen@orinst.ox.ac.uk

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