Faculty Research Forum presents Natalie Polzer
Faculty Research Presents Natalie Polzer "The Chamber Pot and the Golden Pubic Lice Comb: Covert Anti-Zoroastrian Religious Polemics in the Babylonian Talmud"
Feb 18, 2011
from 03:30 pm to 05:00 pm
|Where||Bingham Humanities Room 300|
|Contact Name||Jennifer Stephens|
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The Babylonian Talmud, the most important document of world Judaism until the Enlightenment, was redacted in Babylonia, largely under the rule of the Persian Sasanian dynasty from the 4th through the 8th centuries C.E.. While the Talmud and other early rabbinic documents preserve a rather coherent narrative and legal record of what Jews felt about their pagan rulers in Palestine under Greek and Roman domination (333 BCE – 200 CE), there is little textual evidence showing how Babylonian Jews considered their Persian overlords. Since the official religion of the Sasanian Empire was Zoroastrianism, a dualist religion believing in a supreme God, Ahura Mazda, it could not be considered idolatry like Greco-Roman paganism.
There is evidence in the Talmud and in Zoroastrian priestly documents that shows a polemic against Jewish and Christian religious practices that violated Zoroastrian extreme notions of purity and impurity. However, there is no explicit anti-Zoroastrian polemic in Babylonian Jewish texts. That Jews did, indeed, consider some elements of Zoroastrian belief and practice, especially their extreme notions of purity and impurity, to be absurd and/or problematic can be recovered from Talmudic narratives, if not in Talmudic law.
Faculty Research Forum is a forum for talks by our faculty and the occasional guest on humanities and social science topics of interest to interdisciplinary audiences. These forums are sponsored by the Commonwealth Center with assistance from the College of Arts and Sciences.