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David Levenson

Associate Professor of Religion
Distinguished Teaching Professor

 

Departmental Area: Religions of Western Antiquity
Research Areas : New Testament and Early Christianity; Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism; History of Biblical Interpretation; Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity; Religious Conflict and Competition in the Graeco-Roman World; Religious Tolerance in Late Antiquity; Jews and Judaism in the New Testament and Christian Historiography through Late Antiquity; Syriac.

Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 314 Dodd Hall
Phone: (850) 212-5099
Email: dlevenson@fsu.edu
Office Hours: TBA

Curriculum Vitae

Background


David Levenson (Ph.D. '80, Harvard University, New Testament and Christian Origins) teaches introductory and intermediate-level courses in New Testament and ancient Judaism and advanced courses in "Greek Religious Texts," "Religions of the Graeco-Roman World," "Judaism in the Graeco-Roman World," "Rabbinic Judaism in Antiquity," "Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity," and Greek, Hebrew. Syriac, and Aramaic. He also regularly offers undergraduate and graduate seminars on the gospels. Professor Levenson's primary research areas are (1) Jewish-Christian relations in Antiquity with special attention to images of Jews and Judaism in popular narratives and historiography from the first through the fifth centuries and (2) Josephus. He is currently engaged in writing a commentary (which will also include a new translation) with Thomas Martin, College of the Holy Cross, on Book Six of Josephus' Jewish War, for the new Josephus Commentary series edited by Steven Mason, and published by E.J. Brill. He and Professor Martin are also working on the ancient Latin translation of the Jewish War, with the aim of producing a critical edition of Book Six. In addition to work on Josephus, and ancient Jewish-Christian relations, Professor Levenson is preparing a translation and commentary for the Hebrew Apocalypse of Elijah (Sefer Eliyyahu).


Research Interests


  • New Testament and Early Christianity
  • Josephus
  • Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism
  • History of Biblical Interpretation
  • Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity
  • Religious Conflict and Competition in the Graeco-Roman World
  • Jews and Judaism in the New Testament and Christian Historiography through Late Antiquity
  • Syriac

Selected Publications


Articles

  • "The Ancient Latin Translations of Josephus," with Thomas Martin, in Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Josephus, ed. H. Chapman and Z. Rodgers (Hoboken, NJ) (forthcoming)
  • "The Latin Josephus on Jesus, John the Baptist, and James: Critical Texts of the Latin Translation of the Antiquities and Rufinus' Translation of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History Based on Manuscripts and Early Printed Editions," with Thomas Martin, Journal for the Study of Judaism 45 (2014), 1-79.
  • "The Palestinian Earthquake of May 363 in Philostorgius, the Syriac Chronicon miscellaneum and the Letter Attributed to Cyril on the Rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple," Journal of Late Antiquity 6 (2013), 60-83.
  • "Messianic Movements," Jewish Annotated New Testament, edited by A.J. Levine and M.Z. Brettler (Oxford University Press, 2011), 530-535.
  • Akairos or Eukairos? The Nickname of the Seleucid King Demetrius III in the Transmission of the Texts of Josephus' War and Antiquities," Journal for the Study of Judaism 40 (2009): 307-341 (with Thomas Martin).
  • "The Ancient and Medieval Sources for the Emperor Julian's Attempt to Rebuild the Jerusalem Temple," Journal for the Study of Judaism 35 (2004): 409-460.
  • "University Religion Departments and Teaching About the Bible in Public High Schools: A Report from Florida," Religious Studies News, AAR Edition 17/2 (March 2002), pp. 3,7,10 (republished in SBL Forum, Nov/Dec 2003) [view essay]
  • "Julian, the Emperor," in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, ed. Everett Ferguson. Second edition. New York: Garland Press, 1997
  • "Different Texts or Different Texts: The Contexts of Biblical Studies," in Hebrew Bible or 
    Old Testament?
    , ed. R. Brooks and J.J. Collins, University of Notre Dame Press, 1990.

Current Research Projects


Books

  • Translation and Commentary on Josephus' Jewish War, Book 6  (Brill Josephus Project, edited by Steven Mason) (with Thomas Martin, Holy Cross)
  • Critical Edition,Translation and Commentary on Hebrew Book of Elijah (with Martha Himmelfarb, Princeton University).

Articles

  • "The Ancient Latin Translation of Josephus' Jewish War: State of the Question" "Syriac Translation of Josephus' Jewish War."
  • "Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of Matthew" (Plenary paper at the International Symposium on the Interpretation of the Bible as a Force for Social Change, sponsored by the Evangelische Akademie Arnoldshain and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, October 19-21, Arnoldshain, Germany.) [download essay]
  • “The Date of the Earthquake of 363CE in the Syriac Chronicon Miscellaneum”.

Teaching Specializations


  • New Testament and Early Christianity
  • Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism
  • Religions of the Graeco-Roman World
  • Jewish-Christian Relations
  • Hebrew
  • Greek
  • Aramaic/Syriac

Recent Courses

Fall 2014


HBR1102/RLG5204              Beginning Biblical Hebrew          
In HBR 1102 and 1103 you will study virtually the entire grammar and gain a good working vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew. After the completion of HBR 1103, you will be prepared to read any portion of the Hebrew Bible with the aid of a dictionary and commentary. During the course of the year, approximately six chapters from the Bible will be read and students will be introduced to the standard reference tools used in the analysis of the Hebrew text (lexica, concordances, grammars, critical texts, commentaries, etc.). Since the basic grammar and vocabulary of Modern Hebrew are substantially the same as Biblical Hebrew, the course can also serve as a basis for the study of the contemporary language. To facilitate the transition to Modern Hebrew, the pronunciation current in Israel will be adopted, there will be oral/aural drills (though no significant conversation) and the cursive form of writing will be introduced gradually.

The sequence of HBR 1102, 1103 (Spring 2014) and 2222 (Fall 2014) fulfills the College of Arts & Sciences language requirement. A three‑course sequence in Modern Hebrew (HBR 1120, 1121, 2220), which also fulfills the language requirement, is offered by the Department of Modern Languages. (It is possible to take both Modern and Biblical Hebrew). There is now a Hebrew Minor for which some Biblical and some Modern Hebrew are required. For details about the minor and other information about Hebrew at FSU, see http://www.fsu.edu/~modlang/divisions/hebrew/courses.html

HBR2222/RLG5204              Intermediate Biblical Hebrew     
A close reading of the Joseph narrative (Genesis 37, and 39-45) and brief selections from poetic and legal texts. The primary emphasis will be on vocabulary, grammar, and style, but some attention will be given to issues of textual and source criticism. There will also be exercises that will provide a review and solidify the grammar and vocabulary from Biblical Hebrew I and II. Prerequisite: Two semesters of Modern or Biblical Hebrew.

REL3607                 The Jewish Tradition  
A survey of the varieties of institutional structures and beliefs of Judaism from the biblical period to the present. Traditional Jewish life and practice will be discussed in the context of the historical development of the literature and institutions of Rabbinic Judaism. Other themes treated will include: the interaction between Judaism and Hellenism, Jewish-Christian relations, the position of the Jews in medieval society, mysticism, the impact of the enlightenment, and the emergence of Hasidism, Zionism, Reform, Modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements in the modern period.  Meets Humanities Area IV and writing requirements.

REL4914                 Latin Religious Texts       

RLG5916                Latin Religious Texts     

Spring 2014


HBR1103       Beginning Hebrew II
HBR 1103 continues HBR 1102 and completes coverage of the essentials of Biblical Hebrew grammar. During the course of the semester selections from Genesis and the entire book of Jonah will be read. In addition, there will be some reading from poetic texts (including songs). After the completion of HBR 1103, the student will be prepared to read any portion of the Hebrew Bible with the aid of a dictionary and commentary.

REL3607        The Jewish Tradition
A survey of the varieties of institutional structures and beliefs of Judaism from the biblical period to the present. Traditional Jewish life and practice will be discussed in the context of the historical development of the literature and institutions of Rabbinic Judaism. Other themes treated will include: the interaction between Judaism and Hellenism, Jewish-Christian relations, the position of the Jews in medieval society, mysticism, the impact of the enlightenment, and the emergence of Hasidism, Zionism, Reform, Modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements in the modern period.  Meets Humanities Area IV and writing requirements.

REL4203/RLG5204     History of Religions Sem: Post-Biblical Hebrew
Reading and discussion of selections from Rabbinic Literature and from Modern Hebrew literary and academic texts. There will be a basic introduction to the grammatical structures of Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew with a focus on how they differ from Biblical Hebrew. Prerequisite: Third semester Biblical or Modern Hebrew or permission of instructor.

RLG5204        History of Religions Sem: Post-Biblical Hebrew
Reading and discussion of selections from Rabbinic Literature and from Modern Hebrew literary and academic texts. There will be a basic introduction to the grammatical structures of Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew with a focus on how they differ from Biblical Hebrew. Prerequisite: Third semester Biblical or Modern Hebrew or permission of instructor.

RLG 5937-02   Special Topics in Religion:  Studies in Judaism
A graduate introduction to teaching and research in Jewish studies. Students will attend REL 3607 (“Jewish Tradition”) and also meet weekly to discuss supplementary readings, issues related to teaching Jewish Studies in a university, and individual research projects designed to allow students in various fields to deepen their knowledge of Jewish history, religion, and culture realting to their own areas of interest.

 

Seminars

 

  • Gospel of Matthew (Undergrad), Fall 2009
  • Rabbinic Judaism in Antiquity, Spring 2009
  • Gospel of Mark (Undergrad), Fall 2008
  • Religions of the Graeco-Roman World, Summer 2008
  • Gospel of John Undergrad), Spring 2007
  • Gospel of Matthew (Grad), Fall 2007
  • Jerusalem: Conflict and Controversy from Antiquity to the Present, Spring 2006
  • Gospel Passion Narratives (Undergrad), Spring 2005
  • Jews and Judaism in the Graeco-Roman World, Fall 2005
  • Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity, Fall 2004

 

Language and Text Courses


  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Fall 2009
  • Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, Fall 2009
  • Syriac, Spring 2008
  • Biblical and Targumic Aramaic, Spring 2004
  • Coptic, Summer 2005
  • Greek Text Courses:
    • Josephus, Spring 2007 (Life); Fall 2009 (Jewish War)
    • Philo, On the Creation of the World, Fall 2005
    • John Chrysostom's First Orations Against the Jews, Fall 2004
    • Gospel of Mark, Spring 2008
  • Latin Texts: Ancient Latin trans. of Josephus' Jewish War, Summer 2009
  • Hebrew Text Courses:
    • Medieval Jewish Commentators, Fall 2003
    • Ruth, Summer 2004
    • 1 Kings 17-20, Summer 2009
    • Genesis Rabbah, Fall 2002
    • Talmud, Summer 2002