The Wiley-Blackwell Histories of Religion

The Wiley-Blackwell Histories of Religion is a new series of one-volume reference works providing comprehensive historical overviews of religious traditions and major topics in religion and theology.

Each volume will be organized along chronological lines, and divided into a series of historical periods relevant to the subject. Each of these sections will provide a number of essays looking at the major themes, ideas, figures, debates, and events in that period. This approach has been chosen to offer readers a way of tracing the developments, continuities, and discontinuities which have shaped religion as we know it today.

Each volume will be edited by a renowned scholar and will draw together a number of especially commissioned essays by both leading and up-and-coming scholars who will present their research in a style accessible to a broad academic audience. Authoritative, accessible, and comprehensive, the volumes will form an indispensable resource for the field.

Title Page

Notes on Contributors

Brian Amkraut received his BA from Columbia University; his MA and PhD degrees from New York University in European history and Judaic Studies. Provost of Siegal College, he has served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Oberlin College and at Northeastern University. His first book, titled Between Home and Homeland: Youth Aliyah from Nazi Germany, was recently published. He is currently completing a study of twenty-first-century Jewish life in America.

Ari Ariel completed his PhD in 2009 in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is now a Dorot Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. His work focuses on ethnic, national, and religious identity among Middle Eastern Jewish communities in the Arab world and Israel.

Yaron Ayalon is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern history at Emory University. His research interests include social history of the early modern and modern Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, non-Muslims under Islamic rule, Sephardi Jewry, and natural disasters. He is currently writing a book about natural disasters in the Middle East, and serves as the editor for the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey section of the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Ayalon has also taught Middle East and Jewish history at the University of Oklahoma. He earned a BA in education and Middle East history from Tel Aviv University in 2002, and a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2009.

David Bamberger was a reader for the new Jewish Publication Society translation of the Torah prior to its original publication. He is the author of four best-selling textbooks for religious schools. His general history of the Jews, based on Abba Eban's My People, banned in the former Soviet Union, has been translated into Russian for use in both Russia and Israel. He has performed his original presentation, Rebecca Gratz: A Woman for All Seasons, in many cities including New York, St. Louis, and, for Gratz College, in Philadelphia. He is an active member of Beth Israel-The West Temple in Cleveland.

Dean Phillip Bell (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is Dean, Chief Academic Officer and Professor of History at Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. He has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, DePaul University, and the Hebrew Theological College. Bell is author of Jews in the Early Modern World (2008), Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany: Memory, Power and Community (2007), Sacred Communities: Jewish and Christian Identities in Fifteenth-Century Germany (2001), and he is, with Stephen Burnett, co-editor of Jews, Judaism and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany (2006). His current research focuses on cultural and religious responses to natural disaster in early modern Germany.

Michael R. Cohen is the Director of Jewish Studies at Tulane University, and a Monroe Fellow at the New Orleans Gulf South Center at Tulane. He earned his PhD in American Jewish History from Brandeis University, and his current project, The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter's Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement (2012) argues that Conservative rabbis were the ones who were largely responsible for creating the movement. Cohen's work currently focuses on Jewish life in the South during Reconstruction, and he has also worked on New England Jewry. Cohen received his AB with honors from Brown University.

Jessica Cooperman is the Posen Foundation Teaching Fellow in Jewish Studies at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, PA. She received her PhD in 2010 from New York University. Her research focuses on the Jewish Welfare Board and the World War I American military. She is working on a book that explores the impact of Jewish military service in World War I on the development of American conceptions of religious pluralism.

Joseph M. Davis is an Associate Professor at Gratz College in Philadelphia. He is the author of Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller: Portrait of the Seventeenth Century Rabbi (2001). A student of the late Professor Isadore Twersky, he has published numerous articles on Ashkenazic Jews of the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

Mark I. Dunaevsky is a Rabbi, lawyer, and independent scholar from Evanston, Illinois. He has degrees in philosophy and in law from Northwestern University, and smicha (rabbinical ordination) from the Brisk Rabbinical College in Chicago, Illinois.

Marsha Bryan Edelman holds degrees in general music, Jewish music, and Jewish studies from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Professor Emeritas of Music and Education at Gratz College, she continues to serve there in several adjunct roles, and also teaches in the Miller Cantorial School at JTS. Dr Edelman has written and lectured extensively on a variety of topics relating to the nature and history of Jewish music. She is an active singer, arranger, and conductor, and has been associated with the Zamir Choral Foundation in various musical and administrative capacities since 1971.

Julie Galambush is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She is the author of Jerusalem in the Book of Ezekiel: The City as Yahweh's Wife and The Reluctant Parting: How the New Testament's Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book.

Stephen A. Geller is the Irma Cameron Milstein Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He received his PhD from Harvard in 1976. He has also taught at York University in Toronto, Dropsie College in Philadelphia, and Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. He has worked in the field of biblical poetry and religion, and has published books and numerous articles in these areas, among them Sacred Enigmas. Literary Religion in the Hebrew Bible (1996) and, most recently, studies on the role of nature in biblical religion and other topics. He is currently working on a commentary on the Book of Psalms for the Hermeneia series.

Jane S. Gerber is Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is a past President of the Association for Jewish Studies. She is the author of more than one hundred books, articles and reviews, including The Jews of Spain, which won the National Jewish Book Award in 1993, and Jewish Society in Fez. Her forthcoming books are The Portuguese Jewish Diaspora in the Caribbean, the proceedings of a conference held in Kingston, Jamaica in January 2010, and Cities of Splendor in the Shaping of Sephardic History. She has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including as a finalist for Excellence in Teaching at Lehman College of CUNY. She received her BA from Wellesley College, an MA from Harvard University, and a PhD from Columbia University.

Frederick E. Greenspahn is Gimelstob Eminent Scholar of Judaic Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He has written numerous books and articles, including An Introduction to Aramaic and When Brothers Dwell Together, the Preeminence of Younger Siblings in the Hebrew Bible. He was president of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew and has served on the boards of the Association for Jewish Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature. He is currently editing the New York University Press series Jewish Studies in the 21st Century, and has also edited several books on interfaith relations.

Leonard Greenspoon holds the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University. On the Creighton faculty since 1995, Greenspoon is also Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and of Theology. From his days at a graduate student at Harvard University, he has been interested in translations of the Bible. He has edited or authored almost twenty books, written more than two hundred articles and book chapters, and penned hundreds of book reviews that deal with aspects of this fascinating subject. He has written on topics ranging from the earliest translation of the Bible (the Septuagint) to versions of the Bible composed as recently as this year.

Peter Haas received ordination at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH and then served as an active US Army chaplain for three years. Upon completion of active duty, Rabbi Haas enrolled in the graduate program in religion at Brown University, earning a PhD in Jewish Studies in 1980. He joined the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University in January, 2000, and was appointed Chair of the department in 2003. He also directs the Program in Judaic Studies. Professor Haas has published several books and articles dealing with moral discourse and with Jewish and Christian thought after the Holocaust.

Eva Haverkamp has been Professor for Medieval Jewish History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (Germany) since 2009. She earned her PhD at the University of Constance in 1999 before becoming Assistant Professor and later the Anna Smith Fine Associate Professor of Medieval and Jewish History at Rice University, Houston. Her first book was an edition of three Hebrew chronicles about the persecutions of Jews during the First Crusade, published in 2005. Her current research includes a book project about Jews in medieval politics, a textbook about medieval Jewish history, and an edition of two Hebrew chronicles from the twelfth century.

Dana Evan Kaplan is the Rabbi of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Shaare Shalom, the United Congregation of Israelites, in Kingston, Jamaica and teaches Judaism at the United Theological College of the University of the West Indies. His books include Contemporary American Judaism; Transformation and Renewal (2009, 2011), the Cambridge Companion to American Judaism (2005), American Reform Judaism (2003, 2005), Platforms and Prayer Books: Theological and Liturgical Perspectives on Reform Judaism (2002) and Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism: Conflicting Visions (2001).

Peg Kershenbaum holds a master's degree in ancient Greek from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and received rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale. Her rabbinic thesis, which served as a starting point for her contribution to this collection, was “The Treatment of Anthropomorphisms, Anthropopathisms and Verbs Describing God in the Septuagint Translation of the Book of Judges.” She is engaged in a lexicon project with Rabbi Dr Bernard M. Zlotowitz. This innovative lexicon will provide Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and English definitions of the words in Jewish Scripture.

Hartley Lachter is Associate Professor of Religion Studies and Director of Jewish Studies at Muhlenberg College. His research focuses on the proliferation of Kabbalah in the late thirteenth century. Some of his recent publications include “Spreading Secrets: Kabbalah and Esotericism in Isaac ibn Sahula's Mehsal ha-Kadmoni,” Jewish Quarterly Review, 100(1) (2010); “Jews as Masters of Secrets in Late 13th Century Castilian Kabbalah,” in The Jew in Medieval Iberia (ed. Jonathan Ray) (2011).

Alan T. Levenson is the Schusterman/Josey Professor of Jewish Religious and Intellectual History at the University of Oklahoma. He received his BA/MA from Brown University and his PhD from Ohio State University. He is the author of Between Philosemitism and Antisemitism (2004); The Story of Joseph: A Journey of Jewish Interpretation (2004); An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thinkers (2nd ed., 2006); The Making of the Modern Jewish Bible (2011); and various essays on the modern Jewish experience.

Richard S. Levy has taught German history and the history of the Holocaust at the University of Illinois in Chicago since 1971. He is author of The Downfall of the Antisemitic Political Parties in Imperial Germany (1975), editor of Antisemitism in the Modern World. An Anthology of Texts (1991), Antisemitism: Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, 2 vols. (2005), and, with Albert Lindemann, Antisemitism: A History (2010). He is currently working on the debunkers of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Sean Martin is Associate Curator for Jewish History at Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. His research focuses on modern Jewish history in Poland, especially the history of Jewish child welfare. He is the author of Jewish Life in Cracow: 1918–1939 (2004).

Ted Merwin is Associate Professor of Religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where he directs the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life. For the last eleven years, he has written a weekly theater column for the New York Jewish Week, the largest circulation Jewish newspaper in the nation. In addition, Ted's articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Moment, Hadassah, and many other newspapers and magazines. His first book, In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture, was published in 2006. He is currently finishing a manuscript entitled “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the New York Jewish Delicatessen.”

Paul Rivlin is a Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies, Tel Aviv University. He studied at Cambridge, London, and Harvard Universities and is the author of The Dynamics of Economic Policy Making in Egypt; The Israeli Economy; Economic Policy and Performance in the Arab World; and The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State to the Twenty-First Century, as well as publications on economic development in the Middle East, energy markets, defense, and trade economics.

Keren Rubinstein is an Israeli-Australian currently teaching at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD in Creative Writing and Israeli Literature from Monash University in 2010. Her interdisciplinary doctoral research focused on Israeli life narratives and counternarratives, collective and contested identity. She has also completed an MA at the University of Melbourne, where she explored Israeli military fiction as a window onto the country's transforming narratives of nation, gender, and ethnicity. She has written about Tel Aviv in the novels of Yaakov Shabtai (Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, 2002) and has taught Hebrew and Israeli language and literature at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and Oberlin College, where she also lectured on Jewish comics, graphic novels, and the short story.

Gadi Sagiv studied mathematics, Jewish philosophy, and Jewish history at Tel Aviv University. His research areas include Kabbalah and Hasidism. He received his PhD in 2010 for a dissertation dedicated to the history and thought of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty from its beginning until World War I. His book, The Dynasty, about the Chernobyl Dynasty will be published in Hebrew. Gadi served as an Adjunct Lecturer at Tel Aviv University, and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Stanley J. Schachter is Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA). His area of study was medieval Jewish liturgy. He is a Conservative Rabbi, ordained by JTSA, where he later served as vice-chancellor and member of the faculty. He is currently Rabbi Emeritus of Bnai Jeshurun Congregation, and a chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic, both in Cleveland, Ohio.

Carsten Schapkow, DPhil, Freie Universität Berlin, is Assistant Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of Vom Vorbild zum Gegenbild. Das iberische Judentum in der deutsch-jüdischen Erinnerungskultur (1779–1939) (2011) and “Die Freiheit zu philosophieren”. Jüdische Identität in der Moderne im Spiegel der Rezeption Baruch de Spinozas in der deutschsprachigen Literatur (2001) as well as a number of articles in the fields of Modern Jewish History.

Shai Secunda has a PhD in Talmud from Yeshiva University, worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University and is now a Mandel Fellow at the Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, where he also lectures in Talmud. He is completing a book entitled Reading the Talmud in Iran: Context, Method, and Application.

Laurence J. Silberstein served until recently as the Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies at Lehigh University and Director of the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies. He is the author of The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture and Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought. He has edited six books, including Postzionism: A Reader; The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity (with Bob Cohn); and (with Laura Levitt and Shelley Hornstein), Impossible Images: Contemporary Art After the Holocaust. His articles on modern Jewish thought and culture have appeared in numerous books and journals.

Daniel C. Snell, PhD Yale, 1975, is L. J. Semrod Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, where he has taught history since 1983. Among his books are Twice-Told Proverbs and the Composition of the Book of Proverbs (1993), Life in the Ancient Near East (1997), and Ancient Near Eastern Religions (2011). He also edited Blackwell's A Companion to the Ancient Near East (2005).

Norman (Noam) Stillman is the Judaic Studies Program Director and holder of the Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History at the University of Oklahoma. He is an internationally recognized authority on the history and culture of the Islamic world and Sephardi and Oriental Jewry. Professor Stillman received his PhD in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has published numerous articles in several languages. He is currently writing a book on the Jews of North Africa for University of California Press and is the executive editor of Brill's definitive five-volume Encyclopedia of Jews in the Muslim World.

Jonathan Stökl moved to Oxford for his graduate work in Hebrew and Jewish Studies as well as Oriental Studies in 2002 after studying theology at the Kirchliche Hochschule Bethel (Bielefeld) and Humboldt University (Berlin). He completed his doctorate on prophecy in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East in 2009. After further research on female prophets in the ancient Near East at St John's College, Cambridge, Dr Stökl is now at the History Department of University College London where he carries out research on Judean/Jewish priests in the Persian period as part of a project comparing Judean/Jewish and Mesopotamian priesthoods in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods.

Jarrod Tanny is Assistant Professor of History and the Block Distinguished Fellow of History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Between 2008 and 2010 he was the Schusterman Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Ohio University. He received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, focusing on Russian-Jewish history. He is the author of City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa (2011). His current project is an extended study on Jewish humor and the impact that traditional Yiddish culture has had on popular culture in America and the USSR.

Kerry Wallach is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to Gettysburg, she taught in the Jewish Gender and Women's Studies Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and held a short-term postdoctoral fellowship at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC. Her research interests include German-Jewish literature and history, gender studies, and visual and consumer culture. Current projects focus on Jewish literary visions of American poverty, Jewish beauty queens, and German-Jewish fashion. She is presently at work on a book on the Jewish press in Weimar Germany.

Steve Werlin recently received his PhD from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied Second Temple and Late Antique Judaism and Archaeology. His doctoral dissertation was a regional study of the late ancient synagogues of southern Palestine.

Ehud Ben Zvi is Professor of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. He is general editor of The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and co-general editor of the series ANEM/MACO (both open access). A former president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, he served or serves as Chair of program units/research programmes at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the European Association of Biblical Studies and heads the SBL International Collaboration Initiative. He is the author or editor of more than twenty academic volumes and has written numerous essays on ancient Israelite cultural history, historiography, and social memory, with a focus on Chronicles, prophetic literature, and the Deuteronomistic historical collection.


The Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism offers a panoramic and lively overview of Jewish life from the Ancient Israel to the present. The 37 essays in this volume, written by leading and emerging scholars, clearly and helpfully address questions about Jews and their religion, folk practices, politics, economic structure, and manifold participation in general culture. Building on recent attention in Jewish historiography accorded to the lives of ordinary people, the achievements of Jewish women, and the sustained interaction of Jews with the general environments they inhabit, this volume addresses the fundamental and perennial questions that students and non-specialists ask about Jews and Judaism with sophisticated methods and up-to-date findings. Special attention has been accorded to eras often under-represented in previous anthologies (e.g., the early modern and the contemporary (post-1945) periods of Jewish history). Where a particular era or issue has bedeviled scholars, such as the relationship of Ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible, or the nature of Zionism as it is reflected in the relations between the Diaspora and contemporary Israel, we have devoted multiple essays reflecting various points of view. Several issues such as the role of the Hebrew Bible in Jewish culture, the Jewish roots of Christianity, the nature of modern Israel in its ethnic, economic, and cultural dimensions (i.e., not only the Arab–Israel conflict) receive the attention they are not always accorded in multiauthored works. Understanding that not every aspect in this long history can be addressed, we have allowed the perennial questions asked by undergraduates about Jews and Judaism to be our text and allowed ourselves to be “ministerial to that text” (Leo Strauss) honestly raising the hard questions, but striving to provide clear answers.


I would like to thank the 37 authors who have generously shared their scholarly expertise and their explanatory passions in the excellent essays that make up this volume. Several of the scholars who contributed to this volume, in addition to contributing their own essays, suggested other contributors, other topics and raised a host of terminological and thematic issues that were of general benefit. Likewise, the anonymous external evaluators provided many alternatives, large and small, to the conception of this volume. The Wiley-Blackwell editors have been consistently helpful, from Andy Humphries who initially approached me for this volume, to Rebecca Harkin, whose wise guidance and encouragement brought it to completion. Special thanks are due to The University of Oklahoma which enabled me sufficient time and opportunity to undertake such an ambitious task. Three of the contributors to this volume (Norman [Noam] Stillman, Daniel Snell, and Carsten Schapkow) are colleagues in the history department. The Schusterman Foundation's Jewish Studies Expansion Project, in conjunction with the Foundation for Jewish Culture helped me identify a couple of additional contributors. The University of Oklahoma Judaic Studies program lent me the services of Mrs Melanie Lewey, who organized the original lemma list; Ms Jan Rauh, our former program administrator for Judaic Studies, who assisted me with correspondence; and Mrs Valarie Harshaw, who began the online index.

I hope that the readers of this book will share the enthusiasm of the authors and benefit from their wisdom.

Alan T. Levenson