Barry McNamara  |  Published November 11, 2021

Sienkewicz Lecture

Nov. 18 talk by Jodi Magness to focus on First Jewish Revolt.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Two thousand years ago, what is known as the First Jewish Revolt began during the final year of the reign of Emperor Nero and concluded seven years later. It did not end well.

JODI MAGNESS: Award-winning teacher, author to deliver Thomas and Anne Sienkewicz Lecture on Roma... JODI MAGNESS: Award-winning teacher, author to deliver Thomas and Anne Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology.Monmouth College’s fifth annual Thomas and Anne Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology will focus on the revolt and its final days.

Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina, will present the lecture at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Pattee Auditorium on the lower level of the Center for Science and Business. Titled “Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth,” her lecture is free and open to the public.

“Dr. Magness is a vibrant speaker and a decorated teacher and scholar who will be delivering an engaging, image-filled lecture on the resistance that Jewish rebels put up against Roman legions at a mountainous stronghold in what is now Israel,” said Monmouth classics professor Bob Simmons. “She will share not just findings from her own archaeological excavation of the site, but also ways in which the resistance and supposed mass suicide of the rebels when their fortress was breached has become mythologized in the modern world.”

In the first century B.C.E., Herod the Great, who ruled Judea as client king on behalf of Rome, built a fortified palace atop the mountain of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. Seventy years after Herod’s death, the First Jewish Revolt against Rome broke out and Jewish rebels occupied Masada. According to the ancient historian Flavius Josephus, at the end of the revolt the Romans besieged the mountain and the Jewish rebels committed mass suicide.

In her slide-illustrated lecture, Magness will survey the history and archaeology of Masada, including the results of excavations that she co-directed there in 1995. She’ll conclude by considering the current debates surrounding Josephus’s mass suicide story.

Magness received her bachelor’s degree in archaeology and history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her doctorate in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her talk will be based on work she did for her most recent book, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth, which was selected as a finalist for the 2019 National Jewish Book Award in the category of history.

She has written many other books, two of which have won awards, as well as dozens of articles. In 2008, she received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Further recognition of her teaching prowess is having produced a 36-lecture course on “The Holy Land Revealed” and a 24-lecture course on “Jesus and His Jewish Influences” with The Teaching Company’s Great Courses.

The lecture series was anonymously endowed to honor one of Monmouth’s most broadly influential faculty members, Tom Sienkewicz, who retired as Minnie Billings Capron Chair of Classical Languages in 2017 after 33 years at the College. During his first year on the faculty, Sienkewicz founded the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which has hosted scores of archaeological lectures on campus. From 2012-17, he served the Classical Association of the Middle West and South as its chief executive and financial officer.

His wife, Anne, has been a loyal supporter of archaeology and over the years has hosted countless speakers.

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