Program on Church, State, and Society Presents a Talk on the “Trial of Herod/Jannaeus”

Author: Susan Good


The Program on Church, State, and Society is presenting a talk by Penn State Law School Professor David Flatto on the Trial of Herod/Jannaeus and its effects on Jewish conceptions of law and power.
The discussion, entitled “Struggling for Justice: Law’s confrontation with Political Power in Narratives of Post-Biblical Literature,” will be held on Thursday, November 10, at 4:30 p.m. in Biolchini Room 1315.

The various accounts of the seminal “Trial of Herod/Jannaeus” in post-Biblical literature have been the subject of much scholarship. Weighing the historic credibility of the different versions, scholars have attempted to reconstruct an empirical record of what actually transpired. This important empirical inquiry has obscured an equally crucial examination of the lasting juridical significance of this episode in Jewish Late Antiquity. The very fact that this trial is reported in at least five different early sources (most scholarship only analyzes three of these versions) spanning several centuries indicates that the legend of this trial had a powerful impact on the collective Jewish legal and political imagination of this period.

A closer examination of the multiple narrations reveals that for later generations this episode represents a dramatic encounter between law and power that has enduring consequences. Yet the manifold ways in which this event is retold reflects dramatically different perspectives about the nature of this epic confrontation and its ultimate resolution.

In this lecture, Prof. Flatto will explore the profoundly diverse legacies of the trial, and what this reflects about Jewish conceptions of law and power.

David Flatto is an assistant professor of law, religion, and history at Penn State Law. He has served as a visiting professor at Hebrew University Law School and Yeshiva University, and a visiting researcher at Yale Law School. During the 2011-2012 academic year Professor Flatto is a visiting professor at NYU Law School, Tikvah Center. Professor Flatto received his J.D. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Theology and the Notre Dame Law School Program on Church, State, and Society.