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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 David Carr

Professor Liane Feldman

David DeLauro

All seminars will continue to meet virtually through February 2022. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

09/23/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
A Study in Religious Ethics: Ruth and Naomi in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond
Susan Niditch, Amherst College


This talk is drawn from a chapter of my new project on ethics in the Hebrew Bible and beyond. After a brief overview of the planned book, its origins and goals, I will focus on the story of Ruth, sharing a portion of a longer essay on religious ethics. We will look at relationships and interactions in the narrative, views of the deity, and weave in the concept of “moral luck” as a way of gaining insight into the writer’s worldview. Then we will take note of the potential ethical problems that post-biblical Jewish writers find in the biblical work, underscored by treatments of key passages in Ruth Rabbah, and examine the ways in which the Rabbis understand or resolve troubling issues.

10/19/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
The name "Berechiah" in Zechariah 1
Mark Leuchter, Temple University


The name “Berechiah” in Zechariah 1 (vv. 1 and 7) is often regarded as the name of the father of the prophet and thus part of the prophet’s patronymic information, a standard feature of a superscription in a prophetic book. However, it is more likely a hermeneutical reference to Baruch b. Neriah, the scribe symbolically associated with much material in the book of Jeremiah, a work that left a deep impression on the formation of the book of Zechariah. The present study considers the role that Baruch played in the lore associated with Jeremiah cultivated during the exilic period, and the status of Baruch as a patron saint of scribalism among the Yehudite literati of the Persian period. This, in turn, affected the redaction and reception of the developing book of Zechariah, where the name and memory of Baruch could lend authority to the work and those who shaped it.

11/16/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Terms for Teaching about and Discussing the Formation of Non-P/JE Materials in the Pentateuch in the Twenty-First Century: A Query and Proposal(s)
David Carr, Union Theological Seminary


It is not as clear as it once was how to designate strata of the Pentateuch, especially when trying to teach some basic, broadly-accepted views to students. For example, use of the scholarly term “non-P” for materials outside P (or outside P and D) only characterizes what those materials are not. Yet just using the term “JE” for materials outside P and D just reproduces the parts of the documentary hypothesis that are most controverted. Erhard Blum's proposal of "KD" (Deuteronomistische Komposition) has not gained much traction, both because it is quite tied to his particular set of proposals and because the term "Deuteromomistic" implies a level of specific D influence on non-P materials that surpasses the evidence.

This presentation advances some ideas on this topic that were formed in the process of producing a revised edition of an introductory textbook (now entitled The Hebrew Bible: A Contemporary Introduction [Wiley, 2021]). Using an unusually brief format to allow for broader discussion, this short paper will suggest some different possibilities for terming scholarly schools in Pentateuchal study and advance arguments for the benefits of using the letter “L” to speak to students about a set of relatively late, layers of non-Priestly lay materials that many scholars now identify across different parts of the Pentateuch.

Respondent: Liane Feldman, New York University

Respondent: Julia Rhyder, Harvard University

Respondent: Mark Smith, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

12/07/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
'Hear and give ear!': Biblical Poetry's Speaking Voice
Jacqueline Vayntrub, Yale Divinity School


How did biblical authors understand poetry? What we tend to read as poems function in the Bible as a special kind of speech, that is, representations of the embodied human voice. Scholars have gestured towards theorizing the voice in biblical poetry by applying theories of performance and emphasizing biblical poetry’s oral origins—variously, its historical development, authorial mindset, or informing style. In this talk, I move this conversation forward using theories of the voice and its role in literary production found in philosophy, comparative literature, media studies, and the Classics, to show how biblical poets creatively sought to inscribe their craft of beauty and persuasion as a living, breathing artifact of the embodied voice.

01/25/2022 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Listen to your Mother! Mothers as Moral Teachers in Proverbs vis-à-vis Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical Literature
Karina Hogan, Fordham University


In many of the literary texts of Hellenistic and early Roman-period Judaism, mothers are portrayed as taking an active role in the moral formation of children, both sons and daughters. In some texts, moral instruction seems to be metaphorically associated with maternity more than with paternity. It is curious, therefore, that the teaching role of mothers is barely alluded to in the contemporaneous wisdom books, Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. The question I would like to explore with the Columbia Hebrew Bible seminar is whether (or to what extent) these later wisdom books are departing from Proverbs in minimizing the moral authority and teaching role of mothers.

02/08/2022 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Ken Stone, Chicago Theological Seminary

03/01/2022 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Bernd Schipper, Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany)

Location TBD
7:00 PM

Naphtali Meshel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)

Notes: April Date TBD
05/10/2022 Location TBD
7:00 PM

Julia Rhyder, Harvard University