CONFERENCE "Old Age in Ancient Jewish & Early Christian Contexts" (Amsterdam, June 1-2, hybrid)

Albertina Oegema Announcement
Subject Fields
Ancient History, Classical Studies, Humanities, Jewish History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Invitation w/ Program:

Conceptualizing Old Age in Ancient Jewish and Early Christian Contexts
Symposium (Hybrid) organized by Albertina Oegema and Seth Bledsoe
1-2 June 2022

PThU Amsterdam
1105 De Boelelaan
1081 HV Amsterdam

We would like to invite all who are interested to attend this symposium, hosted by the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam together with Radboud University, Nijmegen. The event brings together several scholars who examine the various ways that “old age” is conceptualized in literary, social, and political contexts of the ancient Mediterranean, especially among early Jewish and Christian communities.


The Symposium comprises two parts:

On the evening of June 1 (19:00-20:30 CEST) a public Keynote Lecture will be held virtually and open to the public, 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 extends their recent groundbreaking study of “old age” in rabbinic literature (When Near Becomes Far, Oxford UP 2021).

During the day of June 2 there will be a Conference on location at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam (De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam) where several international scholars of early Judaism, Christianity, and Greco-Roman antiquity will give presentations on “old age” as a dynamic and meaningful concept in relation to a variety of issues, such as gender, family, society, and wisdom. [Program below]


All interested parties are warmly invited to attend the virtual keynote address. We also welcome those who would like to attend the symposium in person. Attendance at both the keynote and conference is free. Refreshments will be provided during the conference.

To attend the virtual keynote address and receive the Zoom-link for the lecture, please register at:

To attend the in-person conference on 2 June, please register by May 25 at:

For questions or inquiries about the Symposium, please contact:
Seth Bledsoe ( or Albertina Oegema (

Program of Symposium

Wednesday, 1 June, 19:00-20:30 (Virtual Session)
19:00–19:10    Albertina Oegema & Seth A. Bledsoe, Opening

19:10–20:10   Keynote Lecture: Mira Balberg (University of California San Diego) w/ contributions from Haim Weiss (Ben Gurion University), “The Ageless Self and the Selfless Age”

20:10–20:30    Discussion

Thursday, 2 June, 09:15–17:00 (On Location)
09:00–09:30    Informal Opening & Coffee/Tea
09:30-09:40    Albertina Oegema & Seth A. Bledsoe, Opening

09:40–10:50   Session A: Old Age & Masculinity
09:40-10:15    Peter-Ben Smit (Vrije University/Utrecht University), “Beyond Gender: Polycarpus’s Martyrdom at the Intersection of Old Age and Masculinity”
10:15-10:50    Larry L. Welborn (Fordham University), “The Anxious Old Man”

10:50–11:10    Coffee/Tea Break

11:10–12:20   Session B: Old Age & the Family
11:10-11:45    Klaas Spronk (Protestant Theological University), “A Happy Ending: Jacob's Final Years as the Ideal of Old Age in Tanakh”
11:45-12:20    Seth A. Bledsoe (Radboud University), “Old Age, Gender, and Reciprocity”

12:20–13:30   Lunch Break

13:30–14:40   Session C: Old Age & Wisdom
13:30-14:05    Barry Hartog (Protestant Theological University), “Wisdom Comes With Age? Old Age and Knowledge in Ancient Jewish Literature”
14:05-14:40    Lieve Teugels (Protestant Theological University), “New Wine in Old Bags? Torah, Wine, Wisdom and Age in Rabbinic Literature”

14:40–15:00    Coffee/Tea Break

15:00–16:45   Session D: Social Status of the Elderly
15:00-15:35    Silvana Dayan Delatte (University of Fribourg), “Making Sense of Diverse Conceptualizations of Old Age in Classical Athens: Norms and Values Associated to Senescence in Literary and Visual Sources”
15:35-16:10    Christoph Michels (University of Münster), “The Social Implications of Old Age in Imperial Rome”
16:10–16:45   Albertina Oegema (Protestant Theological University), “The Marginalisation of the Elderly in Early Rabbinic Literature”

16:45-17:00    Albertina Oegema & Seth Bledsoe, Final Words
17:00          Reception w/ drinks & light hors d’oeuvres

Contact Information

Dr. Albertina Oegema (Protestant Theological University)

Contact Email