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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On Jewish Betrothal

I recently wrote an essay for thegemara.com 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...

Ezra: Role Play Exercise

Each time I teach “How the Bible Became Holy” I spend a day role-playing the response to Ezra’s return to Jerusalem in 458 BCE.  We focus on the aftermath of Nehemiah 8 but students have read all of Ezra and Nehemiah.  This year we had to break the class into three groups, each simultaneously conducting...

And the Other…. Syllabus for course on the Mishnah and Tosefta

The second course I will be teaching this semester is a graduate student oriented course on the Mishnah and Tosefta.  You can find a copy of the syllabus here. If you would prefer a copy in Word in order to modify for your own needs, please contact me.  As always, suggestions are welcome.  

How the Bible Became Holy: Course Syllabus

This spring I will once again be teaching my course, “How the Bible Became Holy.”  This is an undergraduate survey that spans from the biblical period to around the third century CE.  As always, I have tweaked a little.  A copy of the syllabus is here.  Should you desire to teach a version of this...

Gary Anderson Lecture on Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty

In early November I convened a workshop on Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty.  We spent most of our time at the workshop discussing translations of Jewish texts and we are in the process of assembling those (and other) texts to publish together as a kind of source book. One of the highlights of the...

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...