Topic for 1997-1998: Textual Commentary as Social Practice

For 1997-98, the PSCO brought together scholars of early Judaism, scholars of early Christianity, and classicists to examine interpretation as a social practice in the Mediterranean world of the first through fifth centuries CE, from Philo of Alexandria through Augustine of Hippo. Among the various literary forms in which interpretative practice is expressed, we have chosen to focus on the commentary as a genre (and the commentary mode within texts in other genres) -- precisely the mode of writing that most appears to subordinate the writer to the authority of the text under interpretation. In order to make sense of commentary writing in late antiquity, we wish to situate it within the context of ancient modes of reading, ancient modes of construing the relation of text and meaning, and ancient modes of transmitting knowledge, as these can be reconstructed within particular communities and cultures.


25 September  Maxine Grossman, University of Pennsylvania
"Textual Strategies, Authoritative Voice, and the Dead Sea Scrolls"
6 November  David Dawson, Haverford College
"Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Christian Identity: Origen on Body, History and Narrative"
22 January 1998  Daniel Boyarin, University of California at Berkeley
"The Bartered Word: Midrash and Symbolic Economy"
19 March 1998  Robert Lamberton, Washington University
"Homer, Porphyry, and his Commentaries"
2 April 1998  James O'Donnell, University of Pennsylvania
"Textualizing the World Afresh: The Place of Scriptures in the Latin Church from Augustine to Cassiodorus"
14 May 1998  A Panel of Scholars

Jay Treat