Speakers Bureau

Benjamin D. Sommer

Title: Professor of Bible
Department: Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages

Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer joined the faculty of The Jewish Theological Seminary as professor of Bible in July 2008. Previously, he served as the director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University, where he taught since 1994. Dr. Sommer teaches Hebrew Bible, ancient Judaism, and religions of the ancient Near East, specializing in the history of Israelite religion, literary analysis of the Bible, and biblical theology.

Long an active lecturer and scholar-in-residence, Dr. Sommer has taught rabbis, Jewish educators, and laypeople in a variety of settings in the United States and Israel. He has been a visiting faculty member at various institutions, including the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Shalom Hartman Institute, and the University of Chicago.

Dr. Sommer's book The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2009) received the 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Award from the Association for Jewish Studies for the best book published in the years 2006–2009 in biblical studies, rabbinics, or archaeology. Dr. Sommer is also the editor of the Psalms volumes of the Jewish Publication Society Bible Commentary series. He is working on a book, to be titled Artifact or Scripture? The Jewish Bible Between History and Theology, which will examine whether the Bible, understood as the ancient Near Eastern document it is, can be relevant to modern Jewish thought.

Dr. Sommer holds a PhD in Bible from the University of Chicago, an MA in Near East and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and a BA in Philosophy and Judaic Studies (summa cum laude, with distinction in both majors) from Yale University.

See Dr. Sommer's faculty biography

Lectures

Especially for rabbis and educators:

“Two Models of Jewish Spirituality: A Close Look at the First and Last Psalms”
“Economic Justice in Isaiah’s Thought”
“God's Bodies, God's Selves”

Adaptable for laypeople or for rabbis and educators:

“Midrash: How in the World Did the Rabbis Come Up With This?”
“Seeing a Sound: Revelation at Sinai in the Bible and Jewish Tradition”
“The Two Torahs, and What They Tell Us About How the Rabbis Remade Judaism”
“Reflecting on Moses”
“The Tent of Meeting and the Presence of God”
“The Book of Psalms”

Especially for laypeople:

“What Is the Purpose of Halakhah?”
“The End: Jewish Views of the Afterlife”
“They Wanted Moshiach Then: Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ancient Judaism”
“King David, the Beloved Villain: Or, What Does It Mean to Be Chosen?”
“Two Israelites, Three Opinions: Diversity Within the Bible”

Topics

Ancient Near East
Bible
Commentary and Interpretation
God/Theology
Liturgy
Midrash
Prayer
Prophecy
Torah

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