Forgetting: Retheorizing the Ancient Jewish Past and its Jewish and Christian Reception


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies; Hebrew & Judaic Studies


The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were marked by manuscript discoveries that opened up astonishing new perspectives on ancient Judaism. Since then, much research has been dedicated to reconstructing fragmentary texts and lost voices. The more we have learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, the more we realize how much of the heritage of ancient Judaism was lost to later Jews and Christians. This project uses the test-case of the Jewish and Christian reception of the ancient Jewish past to explore the cultural power of forgetting more broadly. Counterbalancing the focus on remembrance in the construction of collective identities, I look to what has been abandoned, overwritten, and effaced in the process—and the ways in which such erasures often enable cultural renewal and creativity.