Dr Logan Williams
Current Research: Priestly Clothing and its Reception in Ancient Judaism
My current research project explores how visual culture, aesthetics, memory, and divine epiphany intersect in the reception and interpretation of the clothing of Israel’s high priest in early Judaism (4th century BCE–8th century CE). Part I of the project looks at texts from the Second Temple period and considers how the aesthetics of the high priestly clothing could incite divine-human encounters, and I situate these Jewish texts within Mediterranean religious discourse on divine epiphany and the material practices associated with making gods visible through art and clothing. Part II of the project utilises theoretical frameworks from memory studies to explore the afterlives of the high priestly dress in late antique Judaism. In particular, I explore how Jewish authors living well after the destruction of the temple continue to reflected on the high priest’s clothing (even though it was destroyed along with the second temple), as well as how, in the absence of the temple, Jews constructed new ways of conceiving how the ancient priestly clothing possessed contemporary religious value. This project recalibrates the category of ‘material religion’ by investigating not only objects but also the textualized memories of objects – memories which come to expression in the literature of religious communities. It therefore helps elucidate the deep connections between literature and materiality within theology and religious studies. The book produced from this research is provisionally entitled The Epiphanic Aesthetic of the High Priest: Visuality, Materiality, and Memory in Early Judaism
This research is the subject of a paper I will deliver at the next annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. It is entitled 'Aesthetic Divine Encounter: Ben Sira’s Ekphrasis on Simon ben Onias in Light of Greco-Roman Epiphanic Strategies'. The abstract is available to read here.
In my doctoral thesis, entitled Love, Self Gift, and the Incarnation: Christology and Ethics in Galatians in the Context of Pauline Theology and Greco-Roman Philosophy, I argued against the notion that Paul's configuration of prosocial behaviour (love) starkly deviated from the Greco-Roman philosophical/ethical tradition. Whereas it is often asserted that Paul's 'selfless' or 'self-sacrificial' love-ethic ('Agape') subverts the essentially 'self-interested' Greco-Roman ethicists ('Eros'), I contended that neither Paul nor these philosophers can be properly interpreted within the modern dichotomy between altruism and egoism. After providing a fresh reading of four key philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, and Cicero), I used Galatians as a test case to explore Paul's christology and ethics as idealising not self-sacrifice but rather shared selfhood. On the basis of his incarnational christology, Paul encourages believers not to deny self-interest but rather to avoid setting the self in competition with others; his ideal for loving relationships is that the interests of the community would become essentially shared.
- Priesthood in Early Judaism
- Visual Studies
- Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
- Letters of Paul
- Early Christian Ethics
- Meron Gebreananaye, Logan Williams & Francis Watson (Forthcoming). Beyond Canon: Early Christianity and the Ethiopic Textual Tradition. Library of New Testament Studies. T&T Clark.
Chapter in book
- Williams, Logan (Accepted). 'They will Burn before the Face of the Righteous Ones: Ontological Metamorphosis and Eschatological Judgement in the Similitudes of Enoch'. In Parabiblica Aethiopica I. Dochhorn, J. Mohr Siebeck.
- Williams, Logan (2020). 'Debating Daniel's Dream: The Synoptics and the Similitudes of Enoch on the Son of Man'. In Beyond Canon: Early Christianity and the Ethiopic Textual Tradition. T&T Clark.
- Williams, Logan (2019). 'Giving the Self through Death: A Crucified Christ as Gift in Galatians'. In Suffering and the Christian Life. Davies, Rachel & Kilby, Karen Bloomsbury T&T Clark. 23–32.
- Williams, Logan (2018). 'Disjunction in Paul: Apocalyptic or Christomorphic? Comparing the Apocalypse of Weeks with Galatians'. New Testament Studies 64(1): 64-80.