Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School, where he began teaching in 1988, having previously taught at the University of Chicago and at Wellesley College. In 1971, he received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude, from Harvard, where he majored in English. He then pursued doctoral work in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in the same university receiving his degree in 1975. In 2007, St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity.
Professor Levenson’s work concentrates on the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, including its reinterpretations in the “rewritten Bible” of Second Temple Judaism and rabbinic midrash. He also teaches a seminar in the use of medieval Jewish commentaries for purposes of modern biblical exegesis and has a strong interest in the philosophical and theological issues involved in biblical studies, especially the relationship of pre-modern modes of interpretation to modern historical criticism. Much of Professor Levenson’s attention centers on the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, both in antiquity and in modernity, and he has long been active in Jewish-Christian dialogue. In all his work, Jon Levenson’s emphasis falls on the close reading of texts for purposes of literary and theological understanding. Within a stance of interreligious respect and openness to modern historical and comparative study, he seeks to elucidate the enduring religious meanings of the foundational texts of Judaism, avoiding both the relegation of the authoritative documents to the past and an anachronistic projection of modern meanings into them.
Professor Levenson’s books include Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (1985), Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (1988; second edition, 1994), The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity (1993), The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism: Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies (1993), and Esther: A Commentary (1997). His Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (2006) won a National Jewish Book Award and the Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award in the category of Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible published in 2005 or 2006. His most recent book is Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews (2008), which he wrote with Professor Kevin Madigan, also of Harvard Divinity School. Professor Levenson is currently at work on a study of the appropriation of Abraham into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and a critique of the notion of an Abrahamic family of religions.