Dr. Steven Fine, professor of Jewish history and director of the Center for Israel Studies, is the recipient of the Association of Jewish Studies’ (AJS) 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in the area of Jews and the arts for his book Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology (Cambridge University Press, 2005). The award recognizes and promotes outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish studies and honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: innovative research, excellent writing and sophisticated methodology.
The AJS Prize Committee wrote that Fine’s book is a “stimulating and provocative exploration of the Jewish art of the Greco-Roman world.”
It added: “Adopting the lens of what he terms the ‘new Jewish archaeology,’ Fine places Jewish visual culture in the context of the wider Mediterranean world and also explores the historiography of Jewish art through an examination of such diverse objects as American synagogues and art history textbooks. Fine conclusively demonstrates that Jews embraced art as long as it was not idolatrous, and he also examines individual remnants of the rich visual culture of Jewry in their specific context of time and place. Art & Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology demonstrates Fine’s mastery of theoretical ideas, interdisciplinary topics and ideological analysis. Lively and original, this book makes a significant contribution to art history, and also serves as a useful guide for non-specialists and those in other fields as it questions basic assumptions of Jewish studies.”
The award, which comes with a monetary prize of $5,000, will be presented at a reception at the AJS conference on Dec. 20.