Then and Now

Jewish Charity in Antiquity

The online forum Ancient Jew Review recently published three essays on Jewish charity in antiquity, by Alyssa Gray, Gregg Gardner, and Yael Wilfand.  I highly recommend these essays which together provide an excellent introduction to the state of research in this field.  My own response to them was also published here.

Speaking in Baltimore

I will be giving four talks in Baltimore on April 1-2 on the holiness of the Bible.  I am grateful to the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Study and the consortium of Baltimore area synagogues for the opportunity to do this.  The details are located on my Events page or on this flyer.

On Jewish Betrothal

I recently wrote an essay for on the origins of Jewish betrothal.  The primary but not only context for this essay is to provide a new, historical lens for those who, working through the “daf yomi” cycle of reading a page of Talmud each day through to its completion, have just started tractate Kiddushin. ...

Who Read the Bible in Antiquity?

A video of the lecture that I gave at Trinity University on “Who Read the Bible in Antiquity” to kick off their Lennox Seminar.  Meeting faculty colleagues there and interacting with the students in the seminar were both a lot of fun for me, although I wish that someone told me that my collar was...

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...

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 Self and Science

Several years ago I wrote an article, “‘And on the Earth You Shall Sleep’”: Talmud Torah and Rabbinic Asceticism” (Journal of Religion 83 [2003]: 204-225).  In that article, I compared rabbinic “asceticism” (which I broadly define as a set of self-disciplinary practices and training of the self) to similar techniques employed by contemporary Greco-Roman philosophers...

Between Us and Them

  Praised be You, YHVH, our god, king of the universe, who has not made me a gentile; Praised be You, YHVH, our god, king of the universe, who has not made me a slave; Praised be You, YHVH, our god, king of the universe, who has not made me a woman These three lines...

From Israelite to Jew: 6: The Torah

In this episode I discuss the historical formation of the Torah, or Pentateuch, and provide an introduction to the documentary hypothesis. I am now receiving technical support from Brown University, and the quality of the audio is improved. The episode can be heard here. More download options can be found here. The podcast can also...

From Israelite to Jew: 2: Religion of Israel

This is the second episode of the podcast, “From Israelite to Jew.” It focuses on the religion of ancient Israel, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and archaeological finds. The podcast can be heard here, or click on the player below. It can also be accessed via iTunes.