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The seminar is composed of scholars of different faiths and traditions with a common interest in research and teaching of the Hebrew Bible. The focus of the seminar is research illuminating the cultural milieu, language, text, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. This research is characterized by a variety of methodologies, including historical-critical, literary, philological, archaeological, and sociological approaches to the text, as well as history of interpretation. Research on ancient near eastern cultures and languages relating to ancient Israel is also regularly presented.

Professor Liane Feldman

David DeLauro

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020 fall semester. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

09/22/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Transformed, Reformed, Deformed: Acrostics and Radical Aesthetics
Elaine James, Princeton Theological Seminary


One of the most formally fixed types (or, we might say, conservative or traditional) among biblical poems is the acrostic. Form and content, in the case of the acrostic, offer a mutually reinforcing argument for conventionality—order of form mirrors order of content in their predominantly didactic material. Among the acrostics of the Hebrew Bible, the predominant form has the head word of each line or couplet follow sequentially the order of the alphabet. However, there are a couple of striking examples in which the acrostic form is radically expanded, namely Lamentations 3 and Psalm 119. These expansions might be usefully thought of as transformations, reformations, or deformations—each of which implies a different stance of the individual poem with respect to the larger tradition or genre. This essay argues that in these poems where form is transgressed, expanded, or challenged, the poetics of form takes on heightened significance and mobilizes the poem in service to very different aesthetic ends. These examples suggest that forms themselves serve as sites of aesthetic exploration for ancient poets, offering both constraints and opportunities for novel technique and insight.

10/13/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Black Samson: A Conversation with the Authors
Nyasha Junior, Temple University

Jeremy Schipper, Temple University


Nyasha Junior and Jeremy Schipper are the co-authors of Black Samson: The Untold Story of an American Icon (Oxford University Press, 2020). Join us for a wide-ranging conversation about their work, the process of co-authoring, and the field of biblical studies.

11/10/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Madadh Richey, Princeton University

12/08/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Annette Reed, New York University

01/26/2021 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Hindy Najman, Oxford University (England, UK)

02/16/2021 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Brian Rainey, Princeton Theological Seminary

03/23/2021 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Yael Landman, Gorgias Press

04/20/2021 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Philip Yoo, University of Texas Austin