Topic for the Year 2007–2008:
“Tracing the Patterns, (Un/Re-)Weaving the Threads”

Chaired by Annette Yoshiko Reed and Robert Alan Kraft (University of Pennsylvania)

In 1994, John C. Reeves edited and published a collection of essays entitled Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (SBL Early Judaism and its Literature 6, series editor William Adler; Atlanta: Scholars Press). For Reeves, the "threads" refer to the persistent survival (or rediscovery) of early Jewish materials in the literature of a wide variety of religious communities — especially (but not only) Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, and Muslim. The "tracing" refers to modern scholarship on these materials such as was solicited for that volume.

Since both Reeves and Adler are in Philadelphia during the fall term of the 2007-2008 academic year as fellows at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, along with a number of other leading scholars of late antiquity, and since the PSCO itself will be undergoing transition with the arrival of Annette Yoshiko Reed to continue the work of Robert Kraft in the Department of Religious Studies, it seemed an opportune time to take stock of current scholarship in areas relevant to the aforementioned "threads" in their wide geographical distribution in the relevant ancient and late antique worlds.

To facilitate discussion between specialists in different subfields, we have chosen to define the sessions by geographical area, rather than by religious tradition, theme, or textual corpus. By following "threads" through regional trajectories, we hope also to assess, not only our literary remains, but also archaeological evidence, inscriptions, etc.

We are planning a flexible format, focused less on prepared presentations and more on informed discussion. Some sessions will consist of roundtable discussions; scholars from different subfields and specializations will be invited to exchange ideas and information about the sources, state of current research, methodological challenges, and promising directions for research on specific locales. For other sessions, pairs of participants or individual speakers will share their ongoing research and reflections. Although we do not intend to limit ourselves to the CAJS Fellows, they will provide a rich primary reservoir of discussants and participants.