Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

CAMS Lecture Series, 2023–2024: Religious Authority and the Power of the Written Word

CAMS Lecture Series, 2023–2024: Religious Authority and the Power of the Written Word

We are thrilled to introduce this year’s CAMS lecture series. Lectures will be held in a hybrid format in the Weaver Building and online via Zoom. Stay tuned for more information, including Zoom links, for each lecture. For now, save the following dates and times!

In antiquity, texts could function as objects of power, sources of revealed knowledge, and vehicles for authorizing certain religious and social arrangements. Scribes–those responsible for producing, transmitting, and interpreting texts–could often achieve political, social, and religious status by virtue of their facility with the written word and their association with authoritative textual traditions. In this interdisciplinary lecture series, we are inviting experts representing a range of scholarly approaches to explore the relationship between textuality, authority, and power in religious traditions from the Mediterranean basin to Mesopotamia.


Monday October 9, 11:15am (Weaver Building, 102)

Simcha Gross (University of Pennsylvania)

“Rabbis, Scribes, and Sorcerers: Incantations, Script, and Authority in Late Antique Jewish Babylonia”


Friday November 3, 4:00pm (Weaver Building, 102)

David Frankfurter (Boston University)

“Extracting the Magic of Writing: The Senses of the Written Word”


Friday December 4, 4:00pm (Weaver Building, 102)

Eckart Frahm (Yale University)

“Between Propaganda, Polemics, and Philosophy: The Babylonian Epic of Creation Inside and Outside of Mesopotamia”


Friday February 23, 12:15pm (Weaver Building, 102)

Heidi Wendt (McGill University)

“Wisdom Among the Mature? Pauline Letter Collections, Gospel Composition, and the Codex in the Culture of Roman Miscellany”


Monday March 11, 5:30pm (Weaver Building, 102)

Sofía Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago)

“Scribes and Wizards: Materiality of Greco Egyptian Magical Handbooks”


Friday April 19, 4:00pm (Weaver Building, 102)

Sarah Iles Johnston (Ohio State University)

Title: TBD