My research interests include demons, magic, and non-normative rituals, Tannaitic hermeneutics and jurisprudence, constructions of gender and authority in rabbinic literature, and rabbinic imaginings of and encounters with the Other in Late Antique Palestine and Babylonia.
My book, Demons in the Details: Demonic Discourse and Rabbinic Culture in the Babylonian Talmud is forthcoming in 2022. Demons in the Details explores how the Babylonian rabbis imagined a discourse about demons in conversation with the broader cultural world within which they lived. Demons in the Details takes the reader on a journey across the rabbinic canon, exposing how Jews and other communities in the Late Antique world imagined, feared, and controlled demons. Of particular importance to me is pulling from source material surrounding the Talmud. The book synthesizes Sumerian, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Armenian and Syriac Christian, Zoroastrian, Mandaean, and Second-Temple and Palestinian and Babylonian rabbinic texts about demons in order to convey the interactive communal context in which the rabbis conceived marginalization in Late Antique Babylonia. Integrating demons from multiple traditions into the rabbinic system, the rabbis construct themselves as the religious elite best equipped to protect humankind from demonic danger. The rabbis’ cultural bricolage creates a demonology that is theirs, but also component to their social realities. In this demonology, demons were subject to the rabbis and the rabbinic system, and function as a mouthpiece for rabbinic self-identification and differentiation.
I have also published numerous articles on a range of topics related to ancient Judaism. Some of the most recent include:
With Travis Proctor (Wittenberg University). “The Past, Present, and Religious Studies Future of Civic Engagement in American Higher Education” in Wabash Center Journal on Teaching (August 2020).
“A Seven-Headed Demon in the House of Study: Understanding a Rabbinic Demon in Light of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Babylonian Textual Traditions,” Association of Jewish Studies Review (Spring 2019).
“A Demonic Servant in Rav Papa’s Household: Demons as Subjects in the Mesopotamian Talmud,” The Aggada of the Babylonian Talmud and its Cultural World, edited by Geoffrey Herman and Jeffrey Rubenstein (Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 2018), 3-21.
“Space, Place, and the Race for Power: Rabbis, Demons, and the Construction of Babylonia,” Harvard Theological Review 110:4 (2017): 588-603.
- A word cloud of my dissertation prospectus.