Religion, Ethnicity, and Economy in the Roman East
Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity
Jewish and Christian Material Culture and Epigraphy
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
Dead Sea Scrolls
Archaeology of Roman Palestine
Urban Contexts of Christian Origins
Classical Ethiopic (Ge’ez) Language and Literature
Theory and Method for Religious Studies and Social History
I have recently completed a monograph that which will be published by Brill in October, 2018 under the title Revelations of Ideology: Apocalyptic Class Politics in Early Roman Palestine. In this study, I identify an internally diverse tradition of “apocalyptic class rhetoric” in Judaean apocalyptic texts written in Palestine in the Early Roman period (namely, the Psalms of Solomon, Parables of Enoch, and Testament of Moses) and demonstrate its influence on the first generation of Jesus’s followers (with special attention to the “Q source”). Drawing on post-Marxist and neo-Weberian social theory, I propose that elite or sub-elite scribes produced these texts in order to mobilize ideologies—that is, as an attempt to displace dominant ideologies with alternative apocalyptic ideologies that legitimated the authors of these texts. In the process, these scribes disseminated texts that influenced their audiences’ class dispositions.
I am also the co-author with L. Michael White of a book that will be published with SBL Press in October, 2018 under the title Jewish Fictional Letters: The Epistle of Aristeas and Related Literature. This comprehensive resource for students and scholars provides the Greek text along with a new English translation of the Epistle of Aristeas, an extensive epistolary novella written a Jewish author in Alexandria in the first century BCE. It also provides critical introductions to this text, related Jewish texts from Hellenistic Egypt, and the Jewish and Christian authors who transmitted the text in later centuries.
I am currently putting the final touches on another book that examines literary and archaeological evidence for institutional economic change during the first generations of Roman rule in Palestine, Elite Power and Social Change in Early Roman Palestine. This book draws on the social sciences, and especially New Institutional Economics, to analyze the role of Jewish/Judaean elites in the early stages of the incorporation of Palestine into the Roman Empire between 63 BCE and 70 CE. Focusing on archaeological data (including epigraphic, numismatic, and documentary sources), literary sources, and comparative evidence from other eastern Roman provinces, I argue that, while all provincial subjects contributed to cultural and economic change, elites had disproportionate power in provincial incorporation. This power of elites was economic, political, and ideological. They exercised this power by attaining political positions, controlling tax assessment and collection, playing a part in market oversight, specifying private property laws, and (in the case of priestly elites) through their control over the economics of the Jerusalem Temple. They expressed this power through a distinctive class culture that differentiated them from nonelties and connected them with networks of elites across the Roman East and as far as Rome itself.
I am also currently co-editing a volume of essays on similar topics with Michael Flexsenhar and Steven Friesen. Its tentative title is Religion and Class in Antiquity: Explorations of Jewish and Christian Writings in Their Social Contexts. Many of the contributors to this volume have been involved in panels that we have organized at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings in recent years in order to stimulate more historically rigorous and theoretically nuanced discussions of the social and economic contexts of ancient Jewish and Christian texts. The authors in this volume represent a diverse group of specialists in the study of ancient Judaism and Christianity who are concerned with the categories that we use to study antiquity. While not all of the contributors agree on a definition of “class,” or whether “class” is even a useful category for the study of ancient religious traditions, they all agree that the question of whether we use “class” categories or alternatives deserves much more attention than it has received from historians.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I received my B.A. in Religion from Temple University, M.A.R. (Master of Arts in Religion) in Second Temple Judaism from Yale University, and Ph.D. in Ancient Mediterranean Religions from The University of Texas at Austin before joining the faculty of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at UBC in 2017. In recent years, I have been fortunate to receive several awards and fellowships for my research, including the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship, Carol and Eric Meyers Fellowship at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, Andrew W. Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and the Society of Biblical Literature’s Regional Scholar Award. In between teaching and writing, I have enjoyed being involved in several archaeological excavations in Israel and Italy—most recently, the excavations of the synagogue in Ostia, Italy. I look forward to getting my trowel back in ancient Mediterranean dirt in the near future!
I am always happy to support graduate students in whatever ways I can as they immerse themselves in research on the ancient world and/or the history of religion. I am available to supervise students working on any area of Second Temple Judaism, Early Christianity, economy and religion in the eastern Roman provinces, and theory and method for the study of religion.
Revelations of Ideology: Apocalyptic Class Politics in Early Roman Palestine. Leiden: Brill, 2018.
Jewish Fictional Letters from Hellenistic Egypt: The Epistle of Aristeas and Related Literature (co-authored by L. Michael White). Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2018.
The Struggle over Class: Socioeconomic Criticism of Jewish and Christian Texts (co-edited by Michael A. Flexsenhar and Steven J. Friesen). SBL Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplement Series. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature Press. In preparation.
The Psalms of Solomon: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts (co-edited by Patrick Pouchelle and Kenneth Atkinson). SBL Early Judaism and Its Literature Series. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature Press. In preparation.
Refereed Journal Articles:
“Iudaea Capta vs. Mother Zion: The Flavian Discourse on Judaeans and Its Delegitimation in 4 Ezra,” Journal for the Study of Judaism. In press.
“The Vitae Prophetarum and the Archaeology of Jewish Burials: Exploring Class Distinctions in Early Roman Palestine,” Journal of Ancient Judaism. Special issue on “Exploring Death and the Eschaton through Text and Artifact.” Guest-edited by Jonathan Kaplan and Kelley Coblentz Bautch. In press.
“Ezekiel’s Exagoge and the Politics of Hellenistic Theater: Mosaic Hegemony on a Ptolemaic Model” (co-authored by Jonathan MacLellan), Journal of Ancient Judaism. Special issue on “Jews and Drama.” Guest-edited by Sandra Gambetti and Lutz Doering. In press.
“Paul’s Freedom and Moses’ Veil: Moral Freedom and the Mosaic Law in 2 Cor. 3.1-4.6 in Light of Philo,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 37 (2015): 267-289.
“Judaean Apocalypticism and the Unmasking of Ideology: Foreign and National Rulers in the Testament of Moses,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 44 (2013): 301-338.
“Solomon to His Friends: The Role of Epistolarity in Eupolemos,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 22 (2013): 201-237.
“Exhuming the Concept of Class: Syrian Mortuary Practices and Class Differences in the Gospel of Matthew,” in The Struggle over Class. Forthcoming.
“Revealing Ideology from the Testament of Moses to Zuccotti Park: Apocalyptic Class Rhetoric as Ideological Mobilization,” in The Struggle over Class. Forthcoming.
“Poverty and Exploitation in the Psalms of Solomon: At the Intersection of Apocalyptic and Sapiential Discourses,” in The Psalms of Solomon: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts. Forthcoming.
“Ptolemaic Sovereignty and the Political Unconscious of 3 Maccabees: Philopator’s Decree (2:28-30) in Light of Late Ptolemaic Asylia Inscriptions.” Pages 193-216 in New Vistas on Early Judaism and Christianity: From Enoch to Montréal and Back. Edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Gerbern S. Oegema. Jewish and Christian Texts 22. London: T&T Clark, 2016.
“Alexander Polyhistor” (600 words), “Eupolemus” (750 words), and “Syria” (800 words) in T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism. Edited by Daniel M. Gurtner and Loren T. Stuckenbruck. 2 volumes. London: T&T Clark. In press.
“Review of Lester L. Grabbe, Gabrielle Boccaccini, with Jason M. Zurawski, The Seleucid and Hasmonean Periods and the Apocalyptic Worldview,” Review of Biblical Literature 06/2017.
“Review of James M. Scott, BACCHIUS IUDAEUS: A Denarius Commemorating Pompey’s Victory over Judea,” Review of Biblical Literature 12/2016.
“A New State of Affairs: Egyptian Jewish Sources on Ptolemaic and Roman Ta Pragmata (‘State Affairs’).” Co-authored by R. Gillian Glass. Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Hellenistic Judaism program unit (Denver, CO), November 19, 2018.
“Triclinium Trialectics: Jewish and Christian Responses to the Emergence of the Triclinium in Early Roman Palestine.” UBC-University of Victoria Joint Day (Vancouver, BC), March 17, 2018.
“Exhuming the Concept of Class: Syrian Mortuary Practices and Class Differences in the Gospel of Matthew.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Social-Scientific Criticism of the New Testament program unit (Boston, MA), November 18, 2017.
“Reading Matthew’s Gospel in the Cemeteries of Roman Syria: Mortuary Customs, Class, and Empire.” Greater Vancouver Biblical Colloquium (Vancouver, BC), November 9, 2017.
“Paul and Emperor Worship in Ephesus in the 50s CE.” Society of Biblical Literature Regional Meeting – Southwest (Irving, TX), March 12, 2017 (invited).
“Revealing Ideology from the Testament of Moses to Zuccotti Park: Apocalyptic Class Rhetoric as Ideological Mobilization.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – John’s Apocalypse in Cultural Contexts, Ancient and Modern program unit (San Antonio, TX), November 21, 2016.
“The Lives of the Prophets and the Archaeology of Burials in Early Roman Judaea: Class Distinctions between Life and Death.” Enoch Seminar (Austin, TX), May 23, 2016.
“The Lives of the Prophets and the Burials of Jewish Elites: Class Distinctions at the Intersection of Text and Archaeology.” Society of Biblical Literature Regional Meeting – Southwest (Irving, TX), March 12, 2016.
“A Classless Sect? Q’s Woes against the Pharisees and the Material Imprint of Jewish Elites.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Archaeology of the Biblical World program unit (Atlanta, GA), November 24, 2015.
“Mosaic Revelation and Social Transformation: The Testament of Moses and Class Distinction in Early Roman Judaea.” Society of Biblical Literature Regional Meeting – Southwest (Irving, TX), March 14, 2015.
“Review of Eric Meyers and Mark Chancey, Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Volume III.” Society of Biblical Literature/American Schools of Oriental Research Regional Meeting – Southwest (Irving, TX), March 14, 2015 (invited).
“Poverty and Exploitation in the Psalms of Solomon and the Literature of Their Time.” Second International Meeting on the Psalms of Solomon (Centre Sèvres, Paris, France), July 7 (invited).
“Ptolemaic Politics and the Performance of Ezekiel’s Exagoge.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Hellenistic Judaism program unit (San Diego, CA), November 24, 2015. Co-authored and delivered by Jonathan MacLellan.
“Apocalyptic Class Politics in Herodian Judaea: Rethinking the Socioeconomic Contexts of the Psalms of Solomon, Testament of Moses, and Parables of Enoch.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Pseudepigrapha program unit (San Diego, CA), November 23, 2015.
“Sovereignty and the State of Exception in 3 Maccabees and Late Ptolemaic Asylia Decrees.” Enoch Seminar (Montréal, Canada), May 20, 2014.
“Freedom, Slavery, Torah: The Freedom Paradigm and the Mosaic Law in Second Corinthians 3:1-4:6.” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting – Pauline Epistles program unit (Baltimore, MD), November 26, 2013.
“Paul and the Rhetoric of Ethnicity: Ioudaios as Etic and Israēl as Emic in Romans.” Society of Biblical Literature Regional Meeting – Southwest (Irving, TX), March 9, 2013.
“When the Non-Elect Are Not the Anti-Elect: Election at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History in the Book of Ben Sira.” Central Texas Colloquium on Religion (Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, TX), February 18, 2012.
“From Orthopraxy to Orthodoxy, from Soma to Sarx: The Gospel of Judas and the Transformation in Eucharistic Theology.” Society of Biblical Literature Regional Meeting – Mid-Atlantic (Baltimore, MD), March 23, 2009.