The Orion Center Newsletter
Orion Fellow Investigates Slavonic/Jewish Sources
By Mayaan Pase-Jaffe
Orion Center Fellow Dr. Alexander Kulik has a long-standing association with the
Hebrew University. He completed here both his M.A in Slavic and Jewish Studies
and his Ph.D. on The Apocalypse* of Abraham, under the supervision of Professor
Moshe Taube. In recent years he has taught both at the Hebrew U. and abroad. He
is currently Academic Director of the University's Chais Center for Jewish Studies
in Russian, organizing teams of Israeli scholars to teach Jewish studies courses
at universities in the former Soviet Union.
During his tenure as a Center Fellow, Dr. Kulik is preparing a commentary on the
Greek-Slavonic Apocalypse* of Baruch (3 Baruch). This work is scheduled for
publication in the series Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature, from de Gruyter
Press. Kulik presented his research at a recent Orion Center Coffee Hour. He
concluded by saying that the question of whether 3 Baruch was originally a Jewish
or Christian text remains unresolved.
Dr. Kulik is also pursuing a project on the beginnings of Jewish history in Slavic
lands at the Institute of Jewish Studies, and on Jews and the Eastern Church through
the Hebrew U. Center for the Study of Christianity. The cross-disciplinary foci
of Kulik's work promise rich results.
*What is an Apocalypse? A text that tells of a revelation given to a human being
by an "other-worldly" figure, such as an angel, who reveals previously hidden
Professor Michael Stone Returns after Semester Sabbatical
By Mayaan Pase-Jaffe
Professor Michael E. Stone, Gail Levin de Nur Professor of Religious Studies at
the Hebrew University, says he is "pleased to be home." After a semester-long
sabbatical at Harvard University, Professor Stone returns to the Hebrew U. to
continue inspiring students of Armenian and Second Temple Jewish literature.
Currently the chairman of the Orion Center's Academic and Executive committees,
as well as its founder and first director, Stone says that being at Harvard gave
him a chance for some "quiet thinking," revitalizing his fascination with the
"complexity and richness of Judaism" in the Second Temple period.
However, Stone's sabbatical was anything but quiet. He wrote two articles on the
Aramaic Levi Document and a third on the experiential basis of apocalyptic visions.
He also published two new books in the field of apocrypha (non-biblical writings)
on Adam and Eve: Adam's Contract with Satan: The Legend of the Cheirograph of Adam
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press); and A Concordance of the Armenian Apocryphal
Adam Books (Leuven: Peeters).
"Adam's Contract with Satan allowed me to follow one of my passions: Intercultural
detective work," Stone said. "Because the Adam stories are paradigmatic for all
human beings, the study of those texts enables us to gain insight into how people
in the past viewed the basic problems of the human condition." The Concordance,
the first volume in the new Hebrew U. Armenian Studies Series, provides scholars
with an important reference for future work on the Adam literature.
Professor Stone's sabbatical interests continue to bear fruit back at home. He is
working with Esther Eshel on an edition and translation, with commentary, of Aramaic
Levi Document, originally begun with Jonas Greenfield; he is also writing a book
on the metamorphoses of the Adam and Eve stories in Armenian culture.
As a leader in Armenian studies, Stone recently initiated a Jewish-Armenian cemetery
project. With archaeologist David Amit, he has made two expeditions to Armenia,
to locate and compare early Jewish and Armenian Christian tombstones. This season's
discoveries included an inscription dated to 1289, the earliest find thus far.
In the course of more than thirty years, Professor Stone has made many diverse
contributions to the study of the Second Temple period. In 1990, he published an
extensive and highly regarded commentary on 4 Ezra. Combining careful textual and
verse-by-verse exegesis with broader analyses of the book's literary and
religious dynamic, the commentary has been termed the best on 4 Ezra in a century.
With the late Jonas Greenfield, Stone edited the Qumran fragments of Aramaic Levi
for the Discoveries in the Judean Desert series (DJD 22, 1996). His research on
Aramaic Levi led to wider investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Professor Stone
has written on Qumran literature and allied topics; he is considered a leading
authority on apocalyptic literature and on ancient religious thought.
Still, those who know Professor Stone call him humble. His hearty laugh and
endearing attitude towards his colleagues and students have earned him a reputation
that goes beyond his academic accomplishments. When asked about future goals, Stone
just chuckled. "I hope to devote a substantial part of my energies over the coming
years to the study of ancient Judaism," he said. "It never stops taking my interest."
Professor Stone holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. and a Litt.D.
from Melbourne University in Australia.
Professor Leonard Greenspoon to Visit Israel
By Mayaan Pase-Jaffe
Professor Leonard Greenspoon is popping into the Hebrew University soon for a month
long stay as an Orion Center Visiting Scholar. But in one month, he plans to
accomplish a myriad of tasks. Soon after his arrival, Professor Greenspoon will
present an Orion Center Greenfield Scholars' Seminar, on Jewish translations and
translators of the Hebrew Bible.
During Greenspoon's visit, "A prime objective will be to work … with those involved
in the Hebrew U. Bible project, to determine feasibility and direction of cooperation
of scholars in Jerusalem and those in the United States," he said. "I will also
familiarize myself with the working procedures of the project and hope to contribute
some insights in my areas of specialization connected with the Septuagint
[Greek Bible] and textual criticism."
Professor Greenspoon holds the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton
University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, among them Representations
of Jews Through the Ages (Creighton University Press, 1996).