There are several respects in which Deuteronomy straddles the line between what scholars of religion call “scripture” and what they term “tradition.” These include Deuteronomy’s pronounced interpretive character and its emphasis on its own orality. Sommer will discuss surprising similar views of modern biblical critics and of some traditional Jewish interpreters (especially in the Jewish mystical tradition) regarding these characteristics of Deuteronomy. He shows that Deuteronomy not only embodies a central Jewish concept of scripture but helps to construct it.


Benjamin Sommer

(Jewish Theology Seminary)

Bible and Its Interpreters Seminar Series

Benjamin D. Sommer is professor of Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Previously, he was associate professor of religion and director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern. He has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, at the Tikvah Center for Jewish Law and Civilization at the New York University School of Law, and at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Sommer’s research focuses on the history of Israelite religion, literary analysis of the Bible, and biblical theology. He is the author of The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2009) which received the Jordan Schnitzer Award from the Association for Jewish Studies, for the best book published in the years 2006–2009 in biblical studies, rabbinics, or archaeology; and A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66 (Stanford University Press, 1998), which was awarded the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize by the American Academy of Jewish Research for best first book on ancient or medieval Judaism.


Moderator: William Schniedewind

Sponsored By:

UCLA Center for Jewish Studies

Cosponsored By:

UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures