Research

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.

Rabbis and Donors: the Logics of Giving in the Ancient Mediterranean

This book project examines ancient gift practices, particularly among Jews and rabbis, in order to complicate the enduring view that “religious” giving, such as charity or tithing, is categorically separate from “secular” giving, such as commerce, barter, and reciprocal exchange. Using inscriptions and texts from the Ancient Mediterranean, my dissertation focuses on four kinds of donations: tithes, patronage, benefaction, and charity. I argue that not only did ancient Jews draw from an overlapping pool of cultural logics that blended these gift types, but rabbis used these logics to bolster the rabbinic project whilst competing with other social elites for influence. Within a landscape wrought with financial choice, donors were solicited using ideological rhetoric reflecting a profound interplay between religious, economic, and social concerns. I purposefully situate the rabbis’ solicitation of donations amongst the broader late antique competition for funds so as to demonstrate the variety of fundraising tactics at the disposal of elites in the Ancient Mediterranean.

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

Articles

“Yetzer Hara and the dichotomy of Good/Evil” in Good Omens and the Bible, Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies at Sheffield Phoenix Press, forthcoming.

“The Reception of Genesis 2-3 in Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood,” in Bible and Science Fiction. Society of Biblical Literature Press, forthcoming.

“Teaching for the Tithe: Women Donors of Torah Scholars,” AJS Review, forthcoming.

Book Reviews

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.