Online lecture: The ageless self and the selfless age

1 June 2022 19:00 - 20:30

The PThU and Radboud University are organising a virtual public Keynote Lecture entitled 'The Ageless Self and the Selfless Age', given by Prof. Mira Balberg (UC San Diego) in consultation with Prof. Haim Weiss (Ben Gurion). The lecture is part of a symposium on 'Conceptualising old age in ancient Jewish and early Christian contexts'. The lecture extends their recent groundbreaking study of 'old age' in rabbinic literature (When Near Becomes Far, Oxford UP 2021).

About the symposium

How did the various Jewish and Christian communities in the ancient Mediterranean world respond to the observed and/or imagined psychosomatic changes associated with old age? How was old age (in)formally signified in these respective communities? What social roles and attendant responsibilities, constraints, and privileges, were afforded the elderly? What sort of norms and values were associated with senescent identifications? This event brings together several scholars who examine the various ways that “old age” is conceptualised in literary, social, and political contexts of the ancient Mediterranean, especially among early Jewish and Christian communities.


  • Wednesday, 1 June, 19.00 - 20.30 CET (virtual session)

    • 19.00 - 19.10 CET: Albertina Oegema and Seth A. Bledsoe, opening 
    • 19.10 - 20.10 CET: Keynote lecture by Mira Balberg (University of California San Diego) with contributions from Haim Weiss (Ben Gurion University), 'The ageless self and the selfless age' 
    • 20.10 - 20.30 CET: Discussion 
  • Thursday, 2 June, 09.15 - 17.00 CET (on location)

    • 09.00 - 09.30 CET: Informal opening and coffee/tea 
    • 09.30 - 09.40 CET: Albertina Oegema and Seth A. Bledsoe, opening 
    • 09.40 - 10.50   Session A: Old age and masculinity 
      • 09.40 - 10.15 CET: Peter-Ben Smit (Vrije University/Utrecht University), 'Beyond gender: Polycarpus’s martyrdom at the intersection of old age and masculinity' 
      • 10.15 - 10.50 CET: Larry L. Welborn (Fordham University), 'The anxious old man' 
    • 10.50 - 11.10 CET: Coffee/tea break 
    • 11.10 - 12.20 CET: Session B: Old age and the family 
      • 11.10 - 11.45 CET: Klaas Spronk (Protestant Theological University), 'A happy ending: Jacob's final years as the ideal of old age in Tanakh' 
      • 11.45 - 12.20 CET: Seth A. Bledsoe (Radboud University), 'Old age, gender, and reciprocity' 
    • 12.20 - 13.30   Lunch Break 
    • 13.30 - 14.40   Session C: Old age and wisdom 
      • 13.30 - 14.05 CET: Barry Hartog (Protestant Theological University), 'Wisdom comes with age? Old age and knowledge in ancient Jewish literature' 
      • 14.05 - 14.40 CET: Lieve Teugels (Protestant Theological University), 'New wine in old bags? Torah, wine, wisdom and age in rabbinic literature' 
    • 14.40 - 15.00 CET: Coffee/tea break  
    • 15.00 - 16.45 CET: Session D: Social status of the elderly 
      • 15.00 - 15.35 CET: Silvana Dayan Delatte (University of Fribourg), 'Making sense of diverse conceptualisations of old age in classical Athens: norms and values associated to senescence in literary and visual sources' 
      • 15.35 - 16.10 CET: Christoph Michels (University of Münster), 'The social implications of old age in imperial Rome' 
      • 16.10 - 16.45 CET: Albertina Oegema (Protestant Theological University), 'The marginalisation of the elderly in early rabbinic literature' 
    • 16.45 - 17.00 CET: Albertina Oegema and Seth Bledsoe, final words 
    • 17.00 CET: Reception with drinks and light hors d’oeuvres  


All interested parties are warmly invited to attend the virtual keynote address. You can register via the button above. We also welcome those who would like to attend the symposium in person. Attendance at both the keynote and conference is free. 


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