The Jewish inhabitants of medieval Rome, like their Christian neighbors, dwelt in a landscape crowded with monuments to and memorabilia from the city’s glorious history. Alongside its collections of imperial and ecclesiastical artifacts, Rome also housed—or was said to house—countless items from the ancient Jewish past, such as the ritual vessels from the Jerusalem Temple. Moreover, as both Jewish and Christian sources attest, many of the “Jewish” objects that found their way to Rome were prized—and even revered—by Jews and Christians alike. In this presentation, I show how the paradoxical image of Rome as a repository for “Jewish” artifacts illuminates the strategies by which Roman Jews and Roman Christians rooted their quite distinctive claims on the ancient past in the terrain of the shared city.
Ra‘anan Boustan is Research Scholar in the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. Boustan completed his B.A. in Classics at Brown University in 1994 and received a graduate degree in Classics and Religious Studies from the University of Amsterdam during his stay in the Netherlands as a Fulbright Fellow in 1994–95. In 2004, he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. He held a prestigious Harrington Fellowship in 2011–12 in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and has twice been a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2003–4 and 2007–8). He is the author of From Martyr to Mystic: Rabbinic Martyrology and the Making of Merkavah Mysticism (2005), has published widely in leading journals such as Harvard Theological Review, The Jewish Quarterly Review, and Medieval Encounters, and has co-edited eight volumes, most recently a special issue of the journal Archiv für Religionsgeschichte on “Authoritative Traditions and Ritual Power in the Ancient World” (2015). He also co-edits the journal Jewish Studies Quarterly.