Benjamin D. Sommer

 Benjamin D. Sommer
Address3080 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Professor Bible, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Benjamin D. Sommer joined the JTS faculty as professor of Bible in July 2008. Previously, he served as director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University, where he had taught since 1994.

Dr. Sommer’s research focuses on the history of Israelite religion, literary analysis of the Bible, and biblical theology. An overarching concern of his scholarship is the relationship between biblical thought and later Jewish theology or, to use the Hebrew phrasing, the close and manifold relationships between Torah shebikhtav and Torah shebe`al peh. Dr. Sommer has been a visiting faculty member at various institutions, including the University of Chicago, The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Dr. Sommer recently completed his second book, The Bodies of God in Ancient Israel and Its World, which will be published by Cambridge University Press. It addresses perceptions of divine embodiment in ancient Israel, Canaan, and Mesopotamia, and how these perceptions reappear in later Jewish philosophy and mysticism. Dr. Sommer is the editor of the Psalms volumes of the Jewish Publication Society Bible Commentary series and is writing the first volume of that five-volume set. He is also working on a book to be titled Artifact or Scripture? The Jewish Bible Between History and Theology, which will examine whether the Bible, understood as the ancient Near Eastern document it is, can be relevant for modern Jewish thought. His first book, A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66 (Stanford University Press, 1998), was awarded the Salo Baron Prize by the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Dr. Sommer serves on the editorial boards of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History and the Journal of Biblical Literature, and is the editor of the Society for Biblical Literature’s Studies in Biblical Literature series. He has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Yad Hanadiv / Beracha Foundation. Dr. Sommer has long been active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence, teaching rabbis, Jewish educators, and laypeople in a variety of settings in the United States and Israel.

Dr. Sommer and his wife, Jennifer Dugdale, have two children, Avraham Ayyal Sommer and Sarah Gilah Sommer, who attend the Solomon Schechter School in New Milford, New Jersey. The family is currently a member of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, New Jersey. Dr. Sommer grew up in Temple Emanuel in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and attended JTS’s Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School from 1978 through 1982.

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