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


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Latest entries

The Geonim: An Introduction

I have been teaching for many years in the Me’ah adult learning program run by Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts.  I’ve always enjoyed teaching in this program and having the opportunity to interact with the wider Jewish community.  Such teaching continually reminds me of the value in making what I, and other scholars, do accessible to...

Philo’s Definition of “Judaism”

With the publication of Daniel Boyarin’s book, Judaism: The Genealogy of a Modern Notion, “Judaism” is back on the scholarly agenda.  The book (for which I supplied a blurb) was recently the center of an interesting forum in Marginalia, and comes on the heels of a few books dealing with the usefulness of the term...

The College Admissions Process

In light of the latest college admissions scandal (now almost old news), I wrote something on how a simple but radical reform can improve not just the process at selective universities, but ripple down to make our world a better place (admittedly, in the larger scheme of things only a very slightly better place, but...

Open Books!

Over the past few years I have served as Managing Editor of Brown Judaic Studies (BJS), a scholarly monograph series.  I am very excited to announce that after a few attempts, we have succeeded in obtaining a grant from the Mellon Foundation, through the Humanities Open Book Program run by the National Endowment for the...

The Benefit of the The Doubt: Workshop Reflections

I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop entitled, “The Benefit of the Doubt. Between Scepticism and Godlessness, Critique or Indifference in Ancient Mediterranean Religious Traditions” in February.  Sponsored by Humboldt University and Leipzig University, it took place in Berlin.  A short description and the conference program is here. The workshop, in a sense,...

THE HASIDIM HA-RISHONIM AND OTHER ANCIENT AND MODERN FANTASIES

An article that I prepared in connection with the research group “Jewish Ritual Dynamics” run out of Erfurt just appeared in in Historia Religionum 10 (2018): 41-52.  I am not allowed to post the offprint, but the abstract is below: This article re-examines both the ancient rabbinic constructions of the ḥasidim ha-rishonim, sometimes translated “the...

Resources for the Digital Study of Jews and Judaism in Antiquity

At the Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting in 2018 I delivered a kind-of “state of the field” talk with some reflections on applying digital humanities to the study of Jews and Judaism in antiquity (really, Late Antiquity).  I am still working on this paper and will eventually post it, but in the interim I...

Presenting a Volume to Shaye Cohen

At the Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting, we presented an edited volume to my mentor, Professor Shaye Cohen (Harvard University): Strength to Strength: Essays in Honor of Shaye J. D. Cohen (Brown Judaic Studies).  It was a warm and wonderful event.  Isaiah Gafni and I each spoke briefly and then Shaye offered his own...

Paul’s Scriptures

For a while I’ve been interested in how Paul and Josephus, and people like them, would have learned Scripture.  When and how would they have learned to read Hebrew and Greek, particularly at the level required to engage the Tanakh?  How well did they learn it?  How typical would would their knowledge have been? I...

Strength to Strength: Essays in Honor of Shaye J. D. Cohen

I am delighted to announce the publication of the book Strength to Strength: Essays in Honor of Shaye J. D. Cohen, which I had the pleasure of editing.  At over 700 pages, it contains 39 original essays by many of the leading scholars in the field.  Also contains a full bibliography of Professor Cohen’s writings...

Online Course: “Judaism, Christianity, Islam”

I am preparing to teach my first online course during Brown’s Wintersession, beginning this December.  It is a version of a course I have taught (and will teach again) to undergraduates, called “Judaism, Christianity, Islam.”  Preparing this course – still in process – has been quite the experience.  It may be possible for non-Brown students...

Great Jewish Books, Again

This semester I am teaching my “Great Jewish Books” class again.  It is targeted for undergraduates and meant to introduce them to the general shape of the “Judaic conversation” while having them wrestle with categories such as Jewish literature.  By the end of the course, students should be able: To identify several major works of...