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Graduate Student News

Johannes Kleiner
Johannes Kleiner

Welcome to Johannes Kleiner, who has just completed his first year of graduate study as a TIJS Fellow at Emory. Entering the Hebrew Bible program in the Graduate Division of Religion in fall 2012, Kleiner comes to us after earning master's degrees in theology at both the University of Münster, Germany, where he was a fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He intends to focus his study on the Persian and Hellenistic periods and the wisdom tradition in the Hebrew Bible, hoping to learn more about Jewish interpretation and application of scripture in the context of the study of early and contemporary Judaism. In addition to his native German and fluency in English, he also has studied Hebrew, Greek, and some Akkadian, all directly applicable to his course of study.







Congratulations to the TIJS-affiliated graduate students who have completed their programs and received their doctorates during this past year.

Nicole Baerg completed her degree in political science with the dissertation The Political Economy of Conquering Inflation: The Impact of Elite Opposition and Elite Consensus on Inflation-Stabilization, with Israel as a case study. Her committee was chaired by Eric Reinhardt, with members Mark Hallerberg of the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, Drew Linzer of Emory's Department of Political Science, and Tao Zha of Emory's Department of Economics.


Marion Broida
Marian Broida 13PhD

Marian Broida completed a degree in Hebrew Bible with her dissertation entitled Forestalling Doom: "Apotropaic Intercession" in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East. Her adviser was Brent Strawn of Emory's Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion, with committee members Joel LeMon and David Petersen from Emory, and Martti Nissinen from the University of Helsinki.

Broida came to Emory in fall 2004 as a JSMA student in TIJS. Before that she was a nurse and a writer of children's books. She completed the JSMA in spring 2006 and entered the doctoral program in the Graduate of Division of Religion that fall. Her article "Apotropaic Intercession in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East" was just published by Gorgias Press in Studies in Magic and Divination in the Biblical World, edited by Helen R. Jacobus, Anne Gudme, and Philippe Guillaume. With grants from TIJS and Georgia State University (GSU), Broida attended a Hebrew language ulpan in Jerusalem during this past summer and is a visiting lecturer in Hebrew in the Middle East Institute at GSU beginning fall 2013.



Forestalling Doom: "Apotropaic Intercession" in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East
by Marian Broida

This dissertation studies the direct discourse in selected biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts in order to compare the agency of intercessors attempting to avert divinely decreed doom, or what can be called "apotropaic intercession." Eleven narratives from the Hebrew Bible (including, e.g., Abraham's intercession on behalf of Sodom, and Moses's intercessions after the incident of the golden calf), two namburbis (Neo-Assyrian rituals against omens of disaster), and two rituals from Anatolia against unfavorable omens (the rituals of Ḫuwarlu and Papanikri) are analyzed. Using speech act theory, rhetorical criticism, and a definition of magical speech drawn from cognitive science, I distinguish three types of agency in the direct discourse within this corpus: "ritual agency," "magical agency," and "persuasive agency." The different kinds of rhetoric reflect different implicit or underlying theologies. The Mesopotamian and Hittite texts present intercessors using speech acts understood to have originated with the gods. The intercessors step into divine roles with the gods' permission and help. The biblical stories, in contrast, eschew the use of magical and ritual agency. Instead, biblical intercessors confront the deity with initiative, courage, and rhetorical skill—traits theoretically available to all humanity—in order to counter doom.


Zev Farber
Zev Farber 13PhD

Zev Farber completed and defended his dissertation entitled Images of Joshua: The Construction of Memory in Cultural Identities. Jacob L. Wright of Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion was his adviser, and his committee included two Emory professors, William K. Gilders and Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory's Graduate Division of Religion, and three outside readers, Carol Bakhos of UCLA, Ed Noort of Gröningen University, and Michael Segal of Hebrew University.

Farber received an undergraduate degree in psychology from Touro College in 1997, an MA in Ancient Israelite History from Hebrew University in 2002, and rabbinic ordination and advanced ordination (dayanut) from YCT Rabbinical School in 2006 and 2010, respectively.




Images of Joshua: The Construction of Memory in Cultural Identities
by Zev Farber

Joshua son of Nun is an iconic figure of Israelite cultural memory described at length in the Hebrew Bible and venerated in numerous religious traditions. My dissertation is both a text study and a cultural memory study. As such it tackles reception as well as redaction history, focusing on the use and development of Joshua's character and how his various images are deployed in the narratives and sacred texts of several religious traditions. The first two chapters look at Joshua's portrayal in biblical literature, using both synchronic as well as diachronic methodologies. The first chapter focuses on how Joshua is presented (literary analysis) in the Bible, the second on how his image was crafted from various textual layers and traditions (Überlieferungsgeschichte and redaction/source criticism). The other four chapters focus on the reception history of Joshua as an icon of cultural memory. Chapter three deals with Second Temple and Hellenistic/Early Roman period literature (Ben Sira, Maccabees 1&2, 4 Ezra, Philo, Assumptio Mosis, Biblical Antiquities, the Apocryphon of Joshua, and Josephus), chapter four with the medieval (Arabic) Samaritan Book of Joshua, chapter five with the New Testament and Church Fathers, and chapter six with Rabbinic literature.

One central question drives this dissertation: What is the relationship between a hero and the culture in which he or she is venerated? This question is most poignant when a hero spans multiple cultures and religious traditions. On the one hand, a hero cannot remain a static character if he or she is to appeal to diverse and dynamic communities. On the other hand, a traditional icon should retain some basic features throughout in order to remain recognizable. Using Joshua as a case study, my investigation into this tension demonstrates that the study of a hero figure shared by multiple cultures can assist us in understanding not only the elements that bind certain cultures together but also those that keep them apart. At the same time, by taking a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary approach, the dissertation hopes to show how these traditions, while remaining distinct, were in conversation with each other, and subtly shaped each other's interpretive agenda.


Zev Farber
Samira Mehta 13PhD with Don Seeman

Samira Mehta completed her program in the Graduate Division of Religion with a dissertation entitled Beyond Chrismukkah: A Cultural History of the Christian/Jewish Blended Family from 1965 to 2010. Her adviser was Gary Laderman of the Graduate Division of Religion, and committee members included Don Seeman and Elizabeth Bounds of the Graduate Division of Religion and Eric L. Goldstein of the Department of History and TIJS.





Beyond Chrismukkah: A Cultural History of the Christian/Jewish Blended Family in the United States from 1965 to 2010
by Samira Mehta

This dissertation analyzes the shifts in cultural understandings of Christian/Jewish families in late 20th-century American culture in light of changing understandings of ethnicity, particularly the turn to multiculturalism in the 1990s. By examining the strategic use of "religion" and "culture" by commentators on interfaith family life in religious institutions, producers of popular culture, and members of interfaith families themselves, I argue that multiculturalism creates new terms and new definitions through which interfaith families can shape their practices and identities. Ultimately, I conclude that the rise of multiculturalism provides a new moral logic through which interfaith families can develop blended identities. I place both of these projects in the broader sphere of American political discussions about religion and its place as a marker of identity in American life.


Nicole Tilford
Nicole Tilford 13PhD

Nicole Tilford completed a doctoral program in the Graduate Division of Religion with the dissertation Taste and See: Perceptual Metaphors in Israelite and Early Jewish Sapiential Epistemology. Carol Newsom of Emory's Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion chaired the committee, with William Gilders and Walter Wilson serving as readers.

Tilford has held a TIJS top-off fellowship since fall 2009. She came to Emory from Florida State University where she studied classical Greek and Latin in her undergraduate years and earned a master's degree in religions of Western antiquity. In fall 2013, she will teach Biblical Hebrew at Candler School of Theology.





Taste and See: Perceptual Metaphors in Israelite and Early Jewish Sapiential Epistemology.
by Nicole Tilford

My dissertation examines the role of perception in Israelite and early Jewish epistemology through cognitive linguistics and conceptual metaphor theory. In particular, I argue that the regular and repeated experience of the environment through the senses provided the basic cognitive patterns for ancient Israelite and early Jewish scribes to understand the abstract experience of cognition, define the proper means of acquiring knowledge, and prescribe appropriate behaviors for their community members to follow.

Chapters 1 and 2 lay the theoretical and cultural foundations for the study. Chapters 3–5 examine the biological and cultural understanding of perception in the Hebrew Bible and the metaphors derived from them. I begin my analysis in Chapter 3 by establishing a set of "prototypical properties" associated with each of the senses in ancient Israel. Such properties, I argue, were mapped to varying degrees onto the abstract domain of cognition, creating distinctive sets of "primary" metaphors (knowing is seeing, understanding is grasping, ideas are food, etc.), which were then extended, blended, and clustered together to create complex, imaginative metaphors about wisdom (wisdom is a garment, wisdom is a path of light, wisdom is a teacher, etc.). Chapter 3 examines these primary metaphors as they appear in three biblical texts (Proverbs, Job, Qohelet), while Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the various complex, imaginative metaphors in the book of Proverbs. Chapter 6 concludes this study by examining how these imaginative perceptual metaphors became conventional modes of expression in early Jewish literature.

My study of the embodied nature of wisdom metaphors, then, is a study of the cognitive hermeneutics of ancient Israel and early Judaism. Because it postulates that both universal and cultural factors influenced the formation, expansion, and interpretation of epistemological metaphors, my study offers a fresh perspective by which to study biblical traditions and their early interpretations. Most importantly, my dissertation suggests that our study of the Hebrew Bible and its reception would benefit from taking into account not only the cultural milieu of the cultures that produced and interpreted these texts but also the common corporeal experiences that shaped their literary ventures.


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About this Publication

Norman Stillman Delivers the 17th Tenenbaum Lecture

Tenenbaum LectureThis year, the 17th-annual Tenenbaum Family Lecture has brought us full circle, back to a topic connected to the one with which we started.
Moshe Idel Bridges Jewish Mysticism and Indian Religions

Moshe IdelMoshe Idel delivers a talk, "Hindu Thought in Hebrew Words: How Indian Thought Influenced Medieval Jewish Mysticism."
TIJS Faculty Highlights

honor Oded Boroswki with the spring 2014 Symposium and welcomes Nicholas Block.
Blumenthal Awards Go to Three Students

Blumenthal AwardsThe Blumenthal award is given to Emory students (graduate and undergraduate) who submit excellent papers, written in the past year, on any topic related to Jewish studies.
Student News:
Congratulations to
TIJS Graduates

Jessica GinsbergTIJS students earn degrees, go to higher endeavors.

Thanks to Our Donors

Thanks to our donorsWe are grateful to the friends of TIJS for their generous donations that make so many of our programs possible.



Fall 2013
Candler Entrance

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