Round Trip to Hades in the Eastern Mediterranean Tradition explores how the theme of visiting the Underworld and returning alive has been treated, transmitted and transformed in the ancient Greek and Byzantine traditions. The journey was usually a descent ( katabasis) into a dark and dull place, where forgetfulness and punishment reigned, but since ‘everyone’ was there, it was also a place that offered opportunities to meet people and socialize. Famous Classical round trips to Hades include those undertaken by Odysseus and Aeneas, but this pagan topic also caught the interest of Christian writers. The contributions of the present volume allow the reader to follow the passage from pagan to Christian representations of Hades–a passage that may seem surprisingly effortless.
Visits to the Underworld from Antiquity to Byzantium
Lindsey A. Askin
In Scribal Culture in Ben Sira Lindsey A. Askin examines scribal culture as a framework for analysing features of textual referencing throughout the Book of Ben Sira (c.198-175 BCE), revealing new insights into how Ben Sira wrote his book of wisdom. Although the title of “scribe” is regularly applied to Ben Sira, this designation presents certain interpretive challenges. Through comparative analysis, Askin contextualizes the sage’s compositional style across historical, literary, and socio-cultural spheres of operation. New light is shed on Ben Sira’s text and early Jewish textual reuse. Drawing upon physical and material evidence of reading and writing, Askin reveals the dexterity and complexity of Ben Sira’s sustained textual reuse. Ben Sira’s achievement thus demonstrates exemplary, “excellent” writing to a receptive audience.