Access to water is a basic requirement for the existence of human societies and few matters may be as relevant as water to the world in the next decade. The very centrality of water facilitates the developing of social mindscapes in which images of water and terms directly related to it e.g., waterways, reservoirs, springs, rain and storms, systems for accessing, managing and distributing water, become suffused with associations to core concepts within particular historical societies.
The proposed workshop addresses one such society. Its deals with constructions and images of “water” that developed or were common in the Late Persian/Early Hellenistic period in Judah. This society and its intellectual discourse was chosen because it had a long-term influence in the Western world since the books that shaped and reflected its discourse eventually became part of the Bible. What ancient Israelites thought of water had an impact on social imagination and practices for more than two millennia. There is already a very substantial corpus of studies dealing with material aspects of water systems and the impact of different amounts of rain on agricultural production in the area. However, this workshop represents the very first substantial effort to deal with the numerous ways in which water was thought of and imagined during the Late Persian/Early Hellenistic period in Judah. These various ways created discursive interactions which became embodied and encoded in one locus, namely "water."
In the workshop we will discuss the metaphors, rituals, concepts, memories and identity markers associated with water in texts and their relation to each other. This requires a significant team of scholars with varied expertise, willing to collaborate extensively. Thus, we propose the present workshop.
At the core of this workshop stand the Dept. of History and Classics and the Program of Religious Studies at University of Alberta and the Theological Faculties at University of Munich (LMU) who have been successfully collaborating for several years in the area of ancient Israelite History and Hebrew Bible. As in past years, both groups have served as focal points for assembling teams from Europe and Canada who can make this workshop an exciting learning and research experience. The organizers of this workshop are Profs. Christoph Levin (LMU) and Ehud Ben Zvi (University of Alberta) and Francis Landy (University of Alberta).
Prof. Ehud Ben Zvi, University of Alberta