|Associate Professor of Religion
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Departmental Area: Religions of Western Antiquity
Address: Department of Religion
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).
- 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
- Jews and Judaism in the New Testament and Christian Historiography through Late Antiquity
- 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
- 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).
- "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”.
- New Testament and Early Christianity
- Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism
- Religions of the Graeco-Roman World
- Jewish-Christian Relations
HBR1102/REL5204 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 2013) and 2222 (Fall 2013) 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/REL5204 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
A close reading of Genesis 1-12. 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.
REL6298 Seminar on Gospel of Matthew
A close reading of selections from the Greek text of Matthew and of pre-modern and modern scholarship on the passages discussed. Text-critical, literary, linguistic, historical, social-scientific, and comparative religions approaches will all be addressed (though obviously not in equal measure for each passage). Some attention will also be given to the history of the interpretation of the book through the fifth century.
HBR1103/REL5204 Beginning Hebrew II Dr. Levenson
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.
REL2240 Introduction to the New Testament Dr. Levenson
An introduction to the literature of the New Testament and to the academic approaches to it. The distinctive concerns and literary features of individual texts will be studied in the contexts of the historical development of the early Christian church, ancient Judaism, and the wider Greco-Roman world. Emphasis throughout will fall on the variety of interpretations of the Christian message as Christians encountered new social circumstances and theological challenges.This course meets the Liberal Studies literature requirement and the “Gordon Rule” writing requirement.
REL4290/5297 Rabbinic Judaism Dr. Levenson
An advanced introduction to the rabbinic literature of late antiquity. Prerequisite: one semester of Biblical or Modern Hebrew. The course will focus on a close reading of representative texts from the major rabbinic collections in order to gives students the tools to understand the distinctive rabbinic modes of legal argumentation in the Babylonian Talmud, the varieties of techniques for interpreting the Bible in both halakhic (legal) and non halakhic midrashim, and the rhetorical strategies used in the construction of narratives about famous rabbis from the past. In addition to units devoted to learning how to read rabbinic texts by the detailed analyses of a passage from the Babylonian Talmud and from Genesis Rabbah, there will be units on rabbinic interpretations of the Joseph story with comparison to other ancient Jewish and Christian exegetical traditions, the emergence of mystical traditions in rabbinic circles, rabbinic ideas about the messiah, and the distinctive rabbinic contribution to a variety of religious practices and legal traditions such as the recitation of the Shema, sanctification of ordinary and festival meals, Sabbath, Passover, Marriage, and Divorce. All readings will be in English, but there will be references to individual words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic and a brief presentation of the distinctive features of rabbinic Hebrew.
- 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