PhD, Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish Theological Seminary (2000)
MTS, Theology, Scripture and Interpretation, Harvard University (1992)
BA summa cum laude, English Literature and Philosophy, Boston College (1988)


  • Scriptural Interpretation
  • Ancient Judaism
  • Comparative Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)



Additional Books

  • Current Trends in the Study of Midrash, edited volume. (Leiden: EJ Brill, 2006).
  • Ishmael on the Border: Rabbinic Portrayals of the First Arab (New York: SUNY Press, 2006; recipient of Koret Foundation grant).
  • Judaism in its Hellenistic Context, edited volume (Leiden: EJ Brill, 2004).

Articles, Essays and Book Chapters

  • “Scriptural Interpretation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Abrahamic Religions (Oxford University Press, 2015), eds. Guy Stroumsa and Adam Silverstein.
  • “Imagining the Family of Abraham in Genesis Rabbah,” in Genesis Rabbah: Text and Context (tentative title), eds. Martha Himmelfarb, Peter Schaefer, Sarit Katan Gribetz and David Grossberg (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming).
  • “Reading Against the Grain: Humor and Subversion in Midrashic Literature,” in Narratology, Hermeneutics, and Midrash, eds. Gerhard Langer and Constanza Cordoni (Göttingen : V&R Unipress, 2014).
  • “Genesis, the Qur’ān and Islamic Interpretation.” In The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation, eds. Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr and David L. Petersen (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2012), 607-632.
  • “Call Me Ishmael, Then Again, Maybe Not,” AJS Perspectives, Spring 2012, 9-11.
  • “Orality and Writing.” In The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine, ed. Catherine Hezser (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 482-499.
  • “Jewish, Christian and Muslim Attitudes toward Animals.” In Comparative Islamic Studies 5.2 (2009): 177-219.
  • “Jewish Midrashic Interpretation in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.” In A History of Biblical Interpretation: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods. Vol. 2, eds. A. Hauser and D. Watson (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 113-140.
  • “Esau in der apokalyptischen Literatur.” In Esau-Bruder und Feind, ed. Gerhard Langer (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Reprecht, 2009), 107-120.
  • “Recent Trends in the Study of Midrash and Rabbinic Literature,” Catholic Biblical Review 7.2 (2009): 272-293.
  • “Figuring (out) Esau: The Rabbis and Their Others.” Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 58.2 (2007): 250-262.
  • “Abraham Visits Ishmael: A Revisit,” Journal for the Study of Judaism, Vol. 38 (2007): 553-580.
  • “Method(ological) Matters in the Study of Midrash.” In Current Trends in the Study of Midrash, ed. C. Bakhos (Leiden: EJ Brill, 2006).
  • “The Talmud.” In World Literature and Its Times 6: Middle Eastern Literatures and Their Times, ed. Joyce Moss (Detroit: Gale Group, 2004).

Encyclopedia and Dictionary Entries

  • “Midrash.” Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies (
  • “Midrash.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, ed. John Kaltner, and John McKenzie (in press).
  • “Midrash.” In The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, ed. Judith Baskin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • “Ishmael in Rabbinic Literature.” In The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, ed. Judith Baskin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • “Portrayals of Biblical Figures in the Islamic Tradition.” In New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 5 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009).
  • “Portrayal of Ishmael in the Islamic Tradition.” In New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 5 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009).
  • “Midrash.” In Dictionary of Early Judaism, eds. Dan Harlow and John Collins (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011).
  • Post-biblical Commentary on Parashat Tol’dot and Parashat Vayyeshev. In The New Women of Reform Judaism Women’s Commentary on the Torah (New York: Women of Reform Judaism, 2007).
  • “Midrash.” In Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd Edition, ed. Fred Skolnik (Detroit: Macmillan, 2007).
  • “Tannaitic Depictions of Ishmael.” In Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly 2003 (New York: Rabbinical Assembly Press, 2006). [non-peer reviewed]
  • “Midrash Aggadah.” In Reader’s Guide to Judaism (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000).

Book Reviews and Book Review Essays

  • Lieve M. Teugels and Rivka Ulmer, eds. Recent Developments in Midrash Research (Judaism in Context 2; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2005). In Henoch 1 (2009): 185-189.
  • Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives, eds. Phyllis Trible and Letty M. Russell (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2006). In Hebrew Political Studies 4.1 (2009): 84-90.
  • Marc S. Bernstein, Stories of Joseph: Narrative Migrations between Judaism and Islam. (Detriot: Wayne State University Press, 2006). In AJS Review 7.2 (2009): 272-293.
  • David Goodblatt, Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). In Bryn Mawr Classical Review 10.56 (2007).
  • Instone-Brewer, David, The Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament: Prayer and Agriculture (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004). In Review of Biblical Literature (August, 2007).
  • Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006). In Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75.2 ( May, 2007): 423-427.
  • William Horbury, Jews and Christians: In Contact and Controversy (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998). In Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol. 59 ( March, 2006).
  • Günter Stemberger, Jews and Christians in the Holy Land: Palestine in the Fourth Century (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000). In Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol. 59 (March, 2006).
  • Alon Goshen-Gottstein, The Sinner and the Amnesiac: The Rabbinic Invention of Elisha Ben Abuya and Eleazar Ben Arach (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). In Journal of the American Academy of Religion Vol. 70 (Winter, 2003).
  • Etienne Nodet, A Search for the Origins of Judaism: From Joshua to the Mishnah (Sheffield: Sheffield Press, 1997). In Journal of Law, Vol. XVII (2002).
  • Shaye Cohen, ed., The Synoptic Problem in Rabbinic Literature (Providence: Brown Judaic Press, 2000) and Jeffrey Rubenstein, Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition and Culture (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1999). In Journal of Biblical Literature Vol.120, Winter 2001.
  • Karen Armstrong’s In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) and Levi Meier’s Ancient Secrets (New York: Villard, 1996). In Citara (St. Bonaventure University, Spring 1997).

Honors & Awards

UCLA Faculty Research Grant, 2010
New Directions Mellon Fellowship (Visiting Fellow of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, 2006)
CrossCurrents Research Colloquium, Coolidge Fellow, Summer 2005
Koret Foundation publishing grant for Ishmael on the Border, 2004
UCLA Senate Grant, 2003-2005 and 2011-2012
UCLA Faculty Development Award, 2003
Ade Howe Kent Research Grant, 2000
Student Teacher Appreciation Award, 2000
Memorial Foundation Grant, 1998
Awarded the Lady Davis Fellowship, 1998
Jewish Theological Seminary Graduate Fellowship, 1992-93; 1995-98
Roberta C. Rudin Fellowship, 1994
Professor Saul Lieberman and Dr. Judith Berlin Lieberman Fellowship, 1993-95
Interuniversity Fellowship, 1994
Dorot Travel Grant, 1992, 1994
Charles and Ruth Samson Lefkowitz Award, 1993


  • Introduction to Judaism (Jewish Studies M10)
  • The Origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Ancient Near East/Middle Eastern Studies M50B, Religion M50)
  • History of Study of Religion (Religion 101)
  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam: A Comparative Approach (Religion 120)
  • Bible and Qur’an (Middle Eastern Studies/ Religion M133)
  • Scriptures and Their Interpreters (Jewish Studies/ Middle Eastern Studies/ Religion 177)
  • Religion and Modern Critical Thought (Religion 180)
  • Religion Major Capstone (Religion 191)
  • Study of Religion:Theory and Methods (Middle Eastern Studies 201)
  • Rabbinic Texts Hebrew and Aramaic (Hebrew 230)