My research encompasses Ancient Jewish history from the return of the Babylonian exiles in 586 BCE until the compilations of the Talmuds in the 5th and 6th centuries CE.
As a doctoral candidate at Columbia University (2013-2018), I have employed interdisciplinary techniques to advance the study of ancient Jews and their giving practices.The field of Ancient Judaism has long focused on reconstructing a distinct Jewish giving system, which has led to a kind of “category-mania.” Textual and material examples of giving are categorized as either secular or religious, Roman or Jewish, egalitarian or reciprocal to reductive ends. My project reorients our perspective of the ancient Jewish gift: rather than comb sources in the interest of reconstructing a distinct Jewish system, I contend that gift practices inherently resist anthropological categorization. Using Palestinian rabbinic material as a case study, I inspect texts depicting tithes, patronage, benefaction, and charity and situate these examples within the broader Roman world. Through these examples I demonstrate that ancient Jews gave donations inflected by a whole host of concerns that resist easy systematization. Fundamentally, this project offers a new method for analyzing gift-giving within religious traditions. Upon defense in June of 2018, I will prepare this dissertation as a manuscript for publication.
My work is necessarily interdisciplinary and draws from a range of methodological perspectives, including postcolonial, feminist, and religious theory.