Stephen P. Garfinkel

Faculty Emeritus of Hebrew Bible and Its Interpretation

Department: Bible, Jewish Education, Ancient Semitic Languages

Phone: (212) 678-8026


Building Room: Brush 612

Office Hours: By Appointment


BA, University of Pennsylvania; MA, Rabbinical Ordination, and DHL (hon.), The Jewish Theological Seminary; MA and PhD, Columbia University

Dr. Stephen Garfinkel retired after having been a faculty member for 43 years. He also previously served as a visiting faculty member at Yale University and Hunter College. While serving as educational coordinator for United Synagogue Youth, Dr. Garfinkel wrote and/or edited more than 15 books on various areas of Jewish text, practice, and thought. He is a member of the Association for Jewish Studies, Columbia University Hebrew Biblical Seminar, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Dr. Garfinkel’s scholarly publications have appeared in journals, including Vetus Testamentum, Conservative Judaism, and the Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society.

Dr. Garfinkel has received many academic awards throughout his career, including a JTS Stroock Faculty Fellowship, a Dancinger Fellowship, and grants from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He served as Associate Provost and Acting Provost; for more than two decades, he was dean of The Graduate School of JTS; and, for several years, he was chair of the Council on Graduate Studies in Religion.


  • JTS Stroock Faculty Fellowship
  •  Dancinger Fellowship 
  • National Foundation for Jewish Culture


  • “Conservative Jewish Bible Interpretation.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • “Burning Bush, II: Judaism.” In Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, vol. 4. Walter de Gruyter, 2012.
  • “Ecclesiastes.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible. Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • “Clearing Peshat and Derash.” In Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation, edited by Magne Sæbø.
  • “Moses: Man of Israel, Man of God.” In Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary, edited by David Lieber. Jewish Publication Society, 2001.
  • “The Man Moses, the Leader Moses.” In Jewish Religious Leadership: Image and Reality, edited by Jack Wertheimer. The JTS Press, 2014.
  • “Qoheleth: The Philosopher Means Business.” In Bringing the Hidden to Light: Studies in Honor of Stephen A. Geller, edited by Kathryn Kravitz and Diane Sharon. Amer Oriental Society, 2007.


  • “How True Is the Torah?”
  • “How to Read the Bible and How Not To” 
  • “Moses and God: Face to Face” 
  • “Biblical Prophecy: Why It Began and Why It Ended” 
  • “Qohelet [Ecclesiastes]: Pessimist or Optimist?” 
  • “A Convincing Prophet: The Persuasive Techniques of Amos” 
  • The Conservative Movement and Study of Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) 
  • Classical Jewish Texts 
  • Modes of Biblical Interpretation 
  • Biblical Prophecy


Dr. Garfinkel’s current research is focused on early popular perceptions of Moses as a divine figure.