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Historian and Professor Emerita Tessa Rajak to Speak at W&L

Tessa Rajak, a British expert on Hellenistic and Roman-era Judaism, will lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 29 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House, room 101. While at W&L, she will be the Class of 1963 Visiting Scholar in Residence sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Departments of Religion and Classics.

She will speak on “How Josephus the Jew Shaped Christianity.” Her talk is free and open to the public.

She is a historian of social and cultural history of the Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, as well as Jewish culture. Her work reflects a keen eye toward the interrelationships between ancient Romans, Greeks, Jews and the early Christians.

Rajak received her B.A., M.A. and D. Phil. at Oxford University. For many years she was professor of ancient history in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading in England. In 2008, she became professor emerita and moved to Oxford as senior research fellow of Somerville College and senior research associate of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

With the publication of her first book “Josephus: The Historian and His Society,” Rajak became known as an expert in the thought and social, cultural and historical world of Josephus. The book helped catalyze renewed interest in the ancient Jewish historian. She is also partly responsible for creating a newly defined field of study devoted to him.

Other publications include: “The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome: Studies in Cultural and Social Interaction” and “Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible and the Ancient Jewish Diaspora and Philosophy.”

She is co-investigator in a project on “The Jewish reception of the historian Josephus since 1750” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom and based in Oxford. In 2012, she held a Sackler Fellowship at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and in 2013 she was Croghan Centennial Visiting Professor at Williams College in Massachusetts.

While at W&L, Rajak will participate in a faculty colloquium, visit classes and visit Hillel students and faculty. She also will be interviewed on WLUR 91.5 FM.