Alexander, Was He Great?

Date: Aug 15, 2022

Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Sponsor: Public Lectures and Events

Location: Online

Category: Livestream Public Lectures & Events

Alexander, Was He Great? Rabbinic Criticism of Rome through Alexander Narratives

Part of our summer learning series: Stories and Storytelling

Monday, August 15, 2022, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

With Dr. Benjamin Levy, Adjunct Assistant Professor

The rabbis of late antiquity did not write books of theology or political treatises. Rather, they composed stories that would draw the heart and guide the mind to communicate those ideas and practices they deemed essential to Jewish continuity and growth after the destruction of the Second Temple. To accomplish this the sages often redesigned existing literature from the surrounding culture. In “Alexander, was he great?” Ben Levy will explore the ways that the rabbis of late antiquity lampooned stories of Alexander appearing in the popular Greek Alexander Romance, a collection of legends praising Alexander’s fabulous deeds and travels, to criticize Roman imperialism and creatively resist their rule. As conceptions of the Other are frequently employed to formulate the self, Dr. Levy will illustrate the rabbis’ use of these narratives to establish and define a Jewish identity that stands in distinction to the morals and behaviors of Rome.

Please register for the Stories and Storytelling series in order to receive the Zoom link for this series. Once you register for the Stories and Storytelling series, your registration admits you to all sessions in this series, and you may attend as many sessions as you’d like. 

About Dr. Benjamin Levy

Rabbi Ben Levy, PhD, is adjunct associate professor at JTS. He has studied Midrash at the Gershon Kekst Graduate School and has taught rabbinic narrative in Nishma, JTS’s summer Beit Midrash program for five of those years.

Rabbi Levy is the author of A Faithful Heart: Preparing for the High Holy Days, a study text based upon Midrash Ma’aseh Avraham Avinu, and A Faithful Spirit: Preparing for Chanukah, based on Megillat Antiochus. Rabbi Levy has recently been named rabbi emeritus of Congregation Etz Chaim in Monroe Township, New Jersey, where he served as spiritual leader for the past 25 years.


Stories and Storytelling 

Join JTS scholars to explore a selection of stories drawn from ancient, rabbinic, medieval, and modern Jewish literature. We will consider the power of shared stories and how they transmit values, norms, culture, and information, bringing Jews together across time and space.