UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Locating Hebrew Rusia: A Problem of Medieval Hebrew Nomenclature

19 November 2020, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

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The study of Jewish presence in early Eastern Europe and the problems of medieval nomenclature with Alexander Kulik (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

This event is free.

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Institute of Jewish Studies


Gower Street

The study of Jewish presence in early Eastern Europe has been severely hindered by the ambiguity of medieval nomenclature for Old Rus'. Some scholars even went so far as to deny any connection between the medieval Hebrew term Rusi(’)a(h) (in its graphic variations) and the principalities of Rus’. The present lecture examines this term and others denoting Old Rus' in medieval Jewish tradition and traces their historical development. This helps to resolve a cardinal problem of attribution for the earliest sources attesting to a Jewish presence in Eastern Europe, but also reconstructs the history of an important Hebrew ethno-toponym. The lecture takes account of historical contexts, exegetic traditions, and political and confessional perceptions of Old Rus' on the part of medieval Jews from diverse communities spread across Europe and the Middle East.

About the Speaker

Alexander Kulik is Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies, and Grinberg Chair in Russian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Kulik authored four books: Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha (two editions: Society of Biblical Literature: Atlanta GA, 2004 and Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2005), 3 Baruch: Greek-Slavonic Apocalypse of Baruch (Berlin-New York: De Gruyter, 2009), Biblical Pseudepigrapha in Slavonic Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016; with S. Minov), and Jews in Old Rus’: A Documentary History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press for HURI, forthcoming) and edited seven volumes, among them, the collected volume History of the Jews in Russia: From Antiquity to Early Modern Period in the bilingual series with Zalman Shazar Center (Jerusalem, 2010) and Gesharim (Moscow, 2010) and the Guide to Early Jewish Texts and Traditions in Christian Transmission (Oxford-New York, 2019: Oxford University Press; as editor-in-chief, with G. Boccaccini, L. DiTommaso, D. Hamidovic, and M. Stone). He has founded and headed the Brill book series Studia Judaeoslavica.