The Torah tells Israel’s origin story, and the pivotal moment of this story is Israel’s encounter with its God at Mount Sinai. It is at Sinai that Israel becomes God’s people and receives, through Moses, the divine instructions that will govern their national existence. But what exactly did God tell Moses and the Israelites?
The Torah itself contains multiple answers to this question, including the public proclamation of the ten commandments, multiple private revelations to Moses on the mountain, and further lawgivings at the desert tabernacle. Reimaginings of Sinai proliferated in ancient Judaism, as various communities used the authoritative voices of the hallowed past to speak anew to their present circumstances and needs. These authors inaugurated a dialectic between tradition and innovation that lies at the heart of Judaism. This lecture traces reimaginings of Sinai from Deuteronomy to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Mishnah and beyond.
Kevin Mattison teaches courses in Judaism and Bible. His research focuses on the need to interpret authoritative texts and traditions as a driving force behind Jewish literary activity. His current book project, Transforming the Torah: Reimagining Israel’s Origins in Ancient Judaism, examines the variety of retellings of the Torah that proliferated in the Second Temple period. His previous publications, including Rewriting and Revision as Amendment in the Laws of Deuteronomy (Mohr Siebeck, 2018) have focused on interpretive revision of religious law within the Torah itself. In 2022/23 he is serving as adjunct professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at UConn
Sponsor: Sponsored by the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life