I am a scholar of ancient Judaism and Christianity, with primary research interests in the Dead Sea Scrolls, angelology, and religious identity. I currently serve as Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Acadia Divinity College, which is the Faculty of Theology at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.
As an historian, I focus my research on history of the humanities, especially theology, philology, and history. My work thus far has centred on the Hebrew Bible and ancient Judaism in the cultural and intellectual history of 19th-century Germany. I am now a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO), based at Ghent University. Previously, I have been a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Cambridge, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Göttingen. During postgraduate work, I held posts and fellowships across North America and Europe, in departments of history, divinity, philosophy, and culture. After studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago, I completed my doctorate at Göttingen. While finishing my dissertation, I also held visiting fellowships at the Leibniz Institute of European History (Mainz) and Max Weber Center for Advanced Studies (Erfurt). In addition to the FWO, I have secured funding from the European Commission (Horizon2020), Fulbright Program, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and American Schools of Oriental Research.
I am currently the Assistant Professor of Early Judaism in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department at the University of California-Los Angeles. My primary research interests are in the Early Judaism, rabbinic literature, the Roman Near East. Specifically, I am interested in the ways ancient Jews navigated living under imperial domination through the development of legislation and rhetoric about the Other. I am currently working on my first monograph, The Festivals of the Gentiles in Early Judaism. My research also concentrates on the Roman Near East and Semitic languages, especially Aramaic, and their use in imperial contexts. In particular, I investigate the material presentation of Aramaic inscriptions found throughout the Roman Empire. I have authored translation and paleographic articles on Palmyrene Aramaic inscriptions as one of the founding members of the Wisconsin Palmyrene Aramaic Inscription Project in journals including Maarav and KUSATU. I spent the 2017-2018 academic year in Rome as a Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies at the American Academy in Rome (FAAR ‘18). I earned my PhD in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (2018) and my MA in Hebrew and Semitic Studies (2014) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
…“Phinehas’ Priestly Zeal and the Violence of Contested Identities,” Jewish Studies Quarterly [forthcoming, 2018].
“Sabbath-Temple-Eden: Purity Rituals at the Intersection of Sacred Time and Space,” Journal of Ancient Judaism [forthcoming, 2018]
“Tractate Yoma – Introduction, Translation, and Commentary,” in The Oxford Annotated Mishnah, ed. Shaye J.D. Cohen, Robert Goldenberg, and Hayim Lapin [forthcoming].
Esther Chazon and Yonatan Miller, “At the Crossroads: Anti-Samaritan Polemic in a Qumran Text about Joseph,” in The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism: Essay…
I use the study of early forms of Christianity and Judaism to tease out the applications and potentialities of various theoretical approaches and questions, including those inspired by “New Materialism,” Feminist, Transgender, and Queer Theory, M. Foucault, phenomenology, and Science and Technology Studies. My book project examines references to the soul in Greek and Roman antiquity, with the aim of exploring the effects, functions, and power of the ancient soul’s phantom-like presence upon ancient bodies. In my teaching, I like to introduce my students to big, interdisciplinary questions through the study of early Christian and Jewish histories and their receptions in modernity.
I am currently Visiting Scholar in Jewish Studies at the University of Kentucky. Previously I was assistant professor of religion at Centre College, where I taught courses on Bible, Judaism, and Religion in Antiquity. I also mentored and supervised student research. In addition I served as the faculty advisor to the Jewish Students’ Organization, where, in addition advising their activities, I brought in speakers on topics such as anti-semitism and I organized and led the Centre College Passover Seder. I am broadly trained in the Second Temple (including New Testament/Early Christianity) and Rabbinic periods, with a focus on post-exilic and non-canonical Jewish literature, and early Jewish biblical interpretation. My current research combines the study of texts from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE with material evidence to investigate how early Jewish and Christian communities responded to crisis. I am interested in how textual and material evidence reveals ancient attempts to define and establish authority within these communities, and the role of apocalyptic conceptions of the end of days in the composition and interpretation of biblical texts. In addition, I work in Gender Theory/Women and Gender Studies, Genre Theory, and I dabble in the afterlives of biblical and apocryphal stories in popular culture, especially in Science Fiction and Dystopian genres.
Principally trained in both early Christianity and early Judaism, I approach religion in antiquity from an interdisciplinary perspective that challenges category assumptions about early Christian and Jewish literature. In my research and teaching, my goal is to showcase the intricacies of shared cosmological expectations among the communities of the ancient Mediterranean. I write about the intersection of cultural expectations in narratives from the Greco-Roman period, across religious boundaries, especially narrative-level rituals. My first book, My Flesh is Meat Indeed (Fortress; 2015) evaluates how John 6:51c–58 contributes to the gospel’s presentation of Jesus as divine in light of Hellenistic attitudes about sacrifice, divinity, and the consumption of human flesh. My next book-length project, Hierophagy: Transformational Eating in Ancient Literature, explores how performative consumption effects transformation in ancient Mediterranean narratives.
…Ph.D., Brown University, Religious Studies, 2008
M.A., Brown University, Religious Studies, 2005
M.A., Emory University, Jewish Studies, 2003
B.A., Columbia University, Religion, 2001
B.A., Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Ancient Judaism, 2001…
Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism, Cambridge University Press, 2010; paperback edition: 2014.
Religious Competition in the Third Century C.E.: Jews, Christians, and the Greco-Roman World, co-edited with Lily C. Vuong an Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Journal of Ancient Judaism Supplements, Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2014.
“‘Blessings of the Breasts’: Breastfeeding in Rabbinic Literature,” Hebrew Union College Annual 87 (2016): 145-177.
“Dining In(to) the World To Come,” in Olam ha-zeh v’olam ha-ba: This W…
My research focuses on the literature, law, and social history of the rabbinic movement. In particular, I am interested in how rabbinic food regulations enact and maintain distinct identities. I am currently writing a book entitled Rabbinic Drinking: What Beverages Teach Us About Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press; forthcoming in February 2020) and co-editing a volume entitled Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food (New York University Press; forthcoming in December 2019).
Michael Johnson is a fifth year PhD candidate in the early Judaism area of the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University. His dissertation re-examines the categories for the psalms in 1QHodayota a manuscript containing the Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot)—a collection of early Jewish poetry that was found in eight copies among the Dead Sea scrolls. His interests include the material reconstruction of Dead Sea scrolls, digital tools and approaches for ancient manuscripts, genre theory, and digital humanities.
I am an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Humanities at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. I teach courses in Christian Origins, Religion & Gender, Religion & Nature, and the interrelated histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. My current research explores early Christian theorizations of nonhuman bodies – particularly those of evil “demons” – and how such conceptualizations impacted the construction and ritual performance of the early Christian body. My other research interests include topics in gender/sexuality studies, ecocriticism, posthumanism, and ritual studies.