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Modern Greek Studies Lecture: Yossipon and Jewish Nationalism in 19th and 20th Century Greece

Event Type
European Union Center, Modern Greek Studies Program, Department of Jewish Studies, Center of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Department of History, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center
Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Language Building (map)
Feb 25, 2013   7:30 - 8:30 pm  
Steven Bowman, Judaic Studies, University of Cincinnati
Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Director of the Modern Greek Studies Program
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events

Abstract: The impact of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s stimulated a number of ethnic groups to think of nationalist revolution. Already in anticipation of the messianic year 1840, Jews too were excited by the Greek experience and local leaders, e.g., Judah Alqalai, turned to the tenth-century national epic "The Book of Yosippon" for inspiration. Balkan nationalism was stimulated by the decline of the Ottoman Caliphate, Russian military successes, millet system, and the resurrection of a national epic recalling the heroic loss of independence in earlier times.The Book of Yosippon became a key element in the development of Zionism which was strongly supported by Greek Jews who, along with their fellow citizens, positively received the Balfour Declaration that proposed a Jewish National Home in Palestine. The Book of Yosippon also stimulated the Jewish response to the Nazi onslaught that led to the Holocaust and in the wake of the war the reestablishment of the State of Israel.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Bowman is a Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where he   teaches a wide range of courses in ancient and medieval Judaic Studies and modern Israel. Prof. Bowman’s research interests are centered about Greek and Jewish relations throughout the past three millennia. His books include Jews in Byzantium, 1204-1453 (1985), The Holocaust in Salonika: Eyewitness Accounts (2002), Jewish Resistance in Wartime Greece  (2006), and The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945 (2009). He has edited and introduced a number of Greek Holocaust memoirs and studies in The Sephardi and Greek Holocaust Library, of which he is editor-in-chief.  Prof. Bowman has completed an annotated translation of the Book of Yosippon, and preliminary studies of the work have appeared in the Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research and elsewhere, most recently “Jewish Responses to Byzantine Polemics 9th-11th Centuries” in Shofar (2010). An expanded version of the latter is in Zev Garber, ed., The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation (2011).

Prof. Bowman has also contributed articles on Greek Jewry and other topics to a number of encyclopedias, including The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs and most recently to The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Prof. Bowman has received a Faculty Achievement Award from the University of Cincinnati and has earned three Fulbright Research grants and two NEH grants, in addition to the University of Cincinnati Taft Awards. For his sabbatical in 2010-2011 he received a Fulbright-Hayes Travel Abroad Award and was awarded a Lady Davis Postdoc at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for work on a monograph about Sepher Yosippon. He was appointed a Visiting Professor at Wolfson College (Cambridge University) to work on Genizah fragments of this text. His annotated translation of Sepher Yosippon will initiate a new series - The Hackmey Classical Hebrew Library - to be published by Harvard University Press and Tel Aviv University Press. He has given keynote speeches on the Holocaust in Greece in Chicago and New York and lectured widely in the United States and abroad.

This event is free and open to the public.

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