Academic Interests

My intellectual interests cross traditional boundaries in the field of biblical studies, my home discipline, as it is conventionally conceived. Rather than limiting myself to the biblical canon, I prefer to read the canonical and non-canonical texts together.

The focus of my published work is on the Jewish literature composed around the turn of the Common Era. I consider the recent increase in scholarly interest in the non-canonical texts of Early Judaism such as the so-called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls to be one of the most significant and promising recent developments in the field of biblical studies.

This increased interest is significant not merely because it broadens our textual repertoire considerably, but also because of its potential for the study of Early Judaism at large. Methodologically, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha challenge us to explore new ways of reading the old texts and to expand our methodological toolbox beyond the conventional. Historically, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha shed much light on the considerable diversity of Second Temple Judaism; they show what was possible, and they raise anew the question of what happened to this intellectual vibrancy after the devastating events of the year 70 CE. Theologically, these texts enrich our understanding of the origins of Rabbinic Judaism and of nascent Christianity. The Pseudepigrapha – for the most part Jewish texts preserved by Christian scribes – force us to reexamine outdated conceptions of the way in which Christianity and Judaism diverged.

Current Work

Over the last few years, I have been working on three volumes that constitute a trilogy on Second Baruch, a Jewish apocalypse of the late first century. My recent monograph, Jewish Apocalypticism in Late First Century Israel: Reading Second Baruch in Context (Mohr Siebeck, 2011), is the first volume in the trilogy. In it I develop my argument about Second Baruch in broad terms, expose the text’s main themes, explain the apocalyptic program it develops, and locate its place in the rugged terrain of post-70 CE Jewish literature and thought. The second volume is my English translation of Second Baruch, co-published with Michael Stone, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch: Translations, Introductions, and Notes (Fortress, 2013). The third volume, on which I am currently working, will be a critical commentary on Second Baruch, to appear in Walter de Gruyter’s Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature series. It offers a close reading of the book as a whole.

I also co-edited a volume of articles on 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch that were first delivered during the Sixth Enoch Seminar, Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch: Reconstruction After the Fall (Brill, 2013).

At present I am a volume editor of Textual History of the Bible (THB), vol. 2, Deutero-Canonical Scriptures (Brill). THB is an extensive handbook, covering all aspects of the texts and translations of the Hebrew Bible and of the deutero-canonical writings. THB vol. 2 is scheduled to be published in 2019.

I have just published a popular book, titled Mind the Gap! How the Jewish Writings between the Old and New Testament Help Us Understand Jesus (Fortress Press, 2017). The book is about the Judaism of Jesus. It explains why early Jewish literature outside the Bible matters for our understanding of early Christianity.