Friday, April 22, 2005

Summary of Babatha Archive Seminar

We opened by asking to what degree we can generalize about second-century Jewish women from what we know about Babatha. She herself was from the upper stratum and was well off; she was wealthy and owned property. Therefore, she may give us only limited insight into other and economic and social levels. Nevertheless, the Ketubba (marriage contract) and the divorce papers would have been standard templates for all Jewish women.

We noted that Babatha had family connections with the leaders of the Bar Kokhba revolt, which is usually given as the reason for her ending up in the Cave of the Letters. But she also had property in Ein Gedi, so she may have been motivated to keep close in order to keep an eye on it.

We asked if Salome Komais and Yeshua son of Menahem (pap. Yadin 37) had any kind of official relationship while they were cohabiting before they got married. Such indicators as we have point to the cohabitation being an entirely informal arrangement, but this is debated and we do not have enough information to be entirely sure.

We also discussed briefly how the lots of women in the Qumran texts compared to that of women in the Babatha archive (the latter of which deals with a number of women, not just Babatha). There was less overlap than we would have liked to find in the two corpora, but we did come up with a number of points of comparison.

This was now the third hour of straight seminar on Tuesday and fatigue was setting in for all of us. Seminar summarizing fatigue has also set in for me, so I will conclude this summary here.