International Society for Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature
International Meeting, Budapest, 28 June – 1 July, 2015
Various Aspects of Worship in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature
28 June, 2015, 17.30–18.30
Sapientia College of Theology (Budapest, Piarista köz 1.)
Opening Public Lecture
(Professor emeritus, University of Cambridge)
How Did Early Judaism Understand the Concept of ‘Avodah?
The Hebrew word ‘avodah has an intriguing semantic history. Early Rabbinic texts presuppose meanings that include “work,” “study,” “Temple worship” and “prayer.” Do these nuances have a respectable linguistic pedigree, or did the Rabbis invent them? In order to respond to this question, an assessment will be offered of how the word is defined in Classical Hebrew and in the Hebrew texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These findings will then be compared with how the word was rendered by those who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek for the Septuagint, and by the grandson of Ben Sira. It will then be possible to offer a tentative analysis of how theology and language appear to have influenced each other in the treatment of this word by the Jews of the Second Temple period.