Then and Now
How the Bible Became Holy

How the Bible Became Holy

In this startling reinterpretation of biblical history, a leading scholar shows how the Bible became the sacred text it is today


EXCERPT (coming soon)


Latest entries

How the Bible Became Holy: Italian Version

I am tickled to announce that my book, How the Bible Became Holy, has been released in Italian translation.  It is titled, E il Signore parlo a Mose: Come la Bibbia divenne sacra.  A description is here.

The Diaspora in Berlin

Last month I gave a lecture at the Jewish Museum in Berlin as part of a program on “What Does the Diaspora Mean for Jews and Muslims?”  My 30-minuteish lecture (in English) begins at minute 4:27.  The other speaker’s (excellent) lecture (in German) on Islamic views follows, and the panel discussion and questions (in English...

Workshop: Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty

I am very happy to announce an upcoming workshop at Brown University that I am coordinating, “Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty,” to take place on November 1-3, 2015.  More information can be found on the workshop website. A description: Traditional Jewish texts present different approaches to wealth, poverty, and money. The purpose of this...

There Was a Temple on the Temple Mount

I have many friends who find the New York Times’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be “anti-Israel.”  By this, I think that they mean that given a (surprisingly large) number of possible narratives through which to present a news story, the Times often picks one that lies somewhere within the Palestinian spectrum.  I never...

The Wisdom of Ben Sira: How Jewish?

I have written a short piece on how the book of Ben Sira (also known as Ecclesiasticus, which today is found in the Apocrypha) was pushed to the Jewish margins and on some recent attempts to bring it back into at least the fringes of Jewish consciousness.  The essay can be found here.

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religion

For the last several years I have worked as a co-editor on The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religion, “the first comprehensive single-volume reference work offering authoritative coverage of ancient religions in the Mediterranean world.”  It is now available for pre-order, with publication scheduled for December 15, 2015.  While I have my own skepticism about the...

Interview: How the Bible Became Holy

I recently gave an interview to “New Books in Jewish Studies.”  The interview (about 30 minutes) can be heard here.

Wealth: Religious Perspectives

I am excited to be co-teaching a new course this semester with my colleague, Professor Susan Harvey.  The course description of “Wealth: Religious Perspectives,” is below: This course will survey religious approaches to the acquisition and use of wealth: How do religious thinkers understand the notion of ownership and private property? Is the fact of...

The Ein Gedi Scroll: What We Could Potentially, Maybe Learn

A bit over a month ago the Israel Antiquities Authority announced a stunning achievement: a burnt scroll found in excavations of the ancient synagogue of Ein Gedi in 1970 has been partially deciphered using micro-CT technology.  It turns out to contain at least the beginning of the book of Leviticus and, after the Dead Sea...

Great Jewish Books: Second Time Around

Last year I taught an undergraduate class called “Great Jewish Books” and posted the syllabus here.  The course, I thought, went very well.  Nevertheless, since I am an inveterate tinkerer, I have tinkered with the syllabus for the upcoming semester.  In terms of readings, I switched the excerpts for both classic rabbinic texts and medieval...

Take That!

  I direct an online project called Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine (IIP).  The purpose of this project is to make accessible and searchable the many published inscriptions from this region that date from the sixth century BCE to the seventh century CE, in all languages and religions.  We have just entered an exciting  and intensive phase...

Is the Bible True? Should It Matter?

This was just published at Aeon Ideas.  I paste a copy below. Not really.  And not really. The truth is that there isn’t much, if any, historical accuracy in the early accounts in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  There are many reasons to doubt these early stories.  Internal to the Bible itself, the stories are peppered...