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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Fanatics

  We need fanatics. By keeping true to their ideological positions – whether by threatening to bring down the modern global financial markets or by banning vegetables for consumption because they contain microscopic bugs – they remind us of the power and importance of their ideas. Fanatics are very good as serving as embodied and...

A New Home

It has taken me some time, but I finally have managed to create a site that consolidates my blog, my personal website, and my site devoted to resources for my book, Creating Judaism. I have imported past blog entries, a procedure that I have discovered makes a few of them look a bit funny. Future...

Apocalypse, One of These Days

I had the good fortune of recently attending “The Enoch Seminar,” which this year was devoted to study of the books of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra. These two books are both thought to originate in first or second century Palestine, written in Hebrew by Jews. Both contain a series of visions, given by the...

Through the Lens of "Judeo-Christian"

The phrase “Judeo-Christian” – as in, “America is based on Judeo-Christian values” – is a strange beast. Given the not insignificant and often fatal tension between Jews and Christians over 2,000 years over matters of doctrine and belief, what does it mean to meld Judaism and Christianity into a common concept? When and why would...

gninoitseuQ "belief"

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a workshop at Yale University on the term “belief”. The focus was on whether, how, and why “belief” remains a useful category for discussing and explaining religion today. The day of conversation was immensely interesting and I will make no attempt here to convey its...

To Flog or not to Flog?

In an essay discussing his new book, In Defense of Flogging, Peter Moskos wants to begin a conversation. Prisons, we all know, don’t work as well as we would all like. Around .5% of all Americans are currently in prison, an extraordinary number when considered by any measure, and one that is up nearly four-fold...

The Pope, the Jews, and the Vatican Museums

My essay on “The Pope, the Jews, and the Vatican Museums,” was just posted online at “The Forward,” and will appear in the next print edition.

If it is built, would anybody come?

I recently watched an inspiring presentation by Professor Dan Cohen, entitled “The Ivory Tower and the Open Web.” For some time I have been wondering if the web could be used to help develop an online a scholarly community that was relatively tightly focused on early Judaism. A website would offer such scholars an opportunity...

Workshop CFP: Ancient Religion, Modern Technology

The following announcement will soon be going out widely. Please feel free to circulate! Workshop Call for PapersFebruary 13-14, 2012Brown University The Program in Judaic Studies in collaboration with the Brown University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship is pleased to announce plans for a two-day workshop devoted to investigating the ways in which the digital...

Do Dogs Have Free-will?

Of course not. This, I understand, parachutes me into an area that I readily confess to know nothing about. There must be a scientific literature on this, and I am sure that there are passionate dog owners who are positive that their dogs possess free-will. This also is well outside the areas that I normally...

Were the Rabbis Revolutionary?

Yes. Kind of. Maybe. Thus is the status quaestionis as it emerged from a mini-symposium at Harvard University yesterday. Firmly on one side of the question was Shaye Cohen and Moshe Halbertal. Both pointed to the radical difference between the Mishnah and Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. The extensive and systematic treatment of...

Conference Reflections: Archaeology and Texts

Academic conferences tend to peter out. The time is late; all are tired; even some of the panelists have already left for home. There is thus often little time or energy at the end for reflection, synthesis, and robust discussion. The Talmuda de’Eretz Israel conference was no exception. While no fault of the organizers –...