My research encompasses Ancient Jewish history from the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE until the compilations of the Talmuds in the 5th and 6th centuries CE. My work is necessarily interdisciplinary and draws from a range of methodological perspectives, including postcolonial, feminist, and religious theory. 

How Rabbis Became Experts: Friendship and Exchange in Late Antiquity

This book tells the story of how rabbinic Torah scholars became religious experts within the Jewish communities of Roman Palestine from the second through fifth centuries C.E. This period saw the organization of a small group of literate Jews who devoted their lives to the interpretation and teaching of their sacred ancestral texts. They devised their own methods of reading attuned to vocabulary and grammar and created chains of interpretation spanning generations now canonized in rabbinic literature. Yet while they projected an air of epistemic isolation, these scholars were hardly insular. Their expertise was recognized and in turn validated by members of their social networks. Rabbis socialized and noshed with neighbors. Friends of rabbis called upon them for advice or legal favors. Those rabbis in turn received social capital, communal appointments, and lucrative donations. I argue that it was these everyday interactions of mutual exchange far more than their time in the study house that fostered the perception of rabbis as experts.

Synagogue donor inscription in the Metropolitan Museum of NYC, approximately 5th century C.E..
(own photo, 2017).  


“The Crisis of Expertise” in Words Hurt: Discourse and Violence in the History of Religion, Columbia University Press, forthcoming.

“Rabbinic Literature, Roman era Jewish Thought” in Philosophy and Money. Palgrave Press, 2024.

“The Impossible Possibility in Good Omens and Ancient Jewish Ethical Dualism” in Good Omens and the Bible, Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies at Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2024.

“Torah, Masculinity, and Rabbinic Expertise” Gender in Late Antiquity, Fortress Press, 2024.

“’The Testimony of Ancient Books’” in Field Notes: Revisiting the Classics in the Study of Religion. Bloomsbury Press, 2023. 

“Adam, Eve, and Lilith” in Biblical Themes in Science Fiction. Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2023. 

Do Rabbis Belong in Early Jewish Christian Relations?” Ancient Jew Review, September 29, 2022. 

“Rabbis as Recipients of Charity and the Logic of Grammarian Piety,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 53 (2021): 1-37. 

“Teaching for the Tithe: Donor Expectations and the Matrona’s Tithe,” AJS Review 44, no.1 (2020): 49-73. 

Book Reviews

Review of Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature by Max Strassfeld. Gender and History, special issue on “Historicising Trans Pasts,” 2024.

Review of Wealth, Poverty, and Charity in Jewish Antiquity by Gregg Gardner. Journal for the Study of Judaism, 2024.

Review of Charity in Rabbinic Judaism by Alyssa Gray. Journal for Jewish Studies, April 2022.

Review of Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel’s Living God in Jewish Antiquity by Jill Hicks-Keeton. Reading Religion, November 14, 2018. 

Review of Babatha’s Orchard: The Yadin Papyri and an Ancient Jewish Family Tale Retold by Philip F. Esler. Religion, Vol. 48, Iss. 3 (June 2018). 

Review of The Invention of Judaism by John Collins. Ancient Jew Review, February 11, 2018. 

Review of A Prophet Like Moses: Prophecy, Law, and Israelite Religion by Jeffrey Stackert. Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 25, Iss. 1 (2017): 123-125.

Review of Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity by Julia Watts Belser. Religion Vol. 47, Iss.2, (Oct 2016): 1-3.

Review of Women and Modesty in Late Antiquity by Kate Wilkinson. Ancient Jew Review, September 1, 2015. 

Review of The Nomadic Text: A Theory of Biblical Reception History by Brennan Breed. Ancient Jew Review, April 12, 2015.  

Review of How the Bible Became Holy by Michael Satlow. Religion Vol. 45, Iss. 2 (April 2015): 293-322.

Review of Abrahamic Religions by Aaron W. Hughes. Religion Vol. 44, Iss. 4 (Fall 2014): 684-686.

Review of The Aroma of Righteousness by Deborah A. Green. Religion Vol. 42, Iss. 4 (Fall 2011): 693-696.