University of Minnesota
Religious Studies
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Alex P Jassen

Narrative

My research concentrates on the literary heritage of Second Temple period Judaism (6th century B.C.E. – 1st century C.E.) and the important role that this literature plays in reconstructing the history and development of classical Judaism. I am also interested in literary and theological traditions among early Christian communities and their relationship to scriptural antecedents and contemporary Jewish models. The primary research prism in which I approach these questions is the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community. I teach courses related to the history and literature of Second Temple and rabbinic Judaism as well as the larger framework of Jewish history and thought. I am particularly interested in the ways that Jews in the Second Temple period continued to seek access to the divine word and will through means such as prophecy, divination, magic, mysticism, and biblical interpretation. My research also focuses on the development of post-biblical Jewish law, in particular how the formation of Jewish law is tied to prophetic and revelatory claims. My book Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (E.J. Brill, 2007), examines how the Qumran community conceptualized the meaning of prophecy and divine revelation in dialogue and in contrast with received biblical models and the evidence for ongoing prophetic activity at Qumran and in Second Temple Judaism. I recently completed a second monograph entitled Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press). It is the first work of its kind to examine legal exegesis in the Dead Sea Scrolls from the perspective of both the history of Jewish law and early biblical interpretation. My current major research project is a monograph entitled Violence, Religion, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Religious violence, both real and imagined, frames much of the Qumran community’s history and worldview. This monograph will be the first comprehensive study of (1) the role of violence in the formation of the sectarian Qumran community, (2) the function of violence in the ordering of communal life and legitimization of sectarian ideology, and (3) the rhetoric of imagined violence against other Jews and foreign powers (especially Rome) in the end of days.


Specialties

  • Hebrew Bible and Biblical Interpretation
  • Second Temple Judaism
  • Dead Sea scrolls
  • Study of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Jewish History and Literature of Late Antiquity, New York University, 2006.
  • B.A. : University of Washington, 2001.

Publications

  • Jassen, Alex P. Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • with Ra'anan S. Boustan and Calvin J. Roetzel. Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity. Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming.
  • Jassen, Alex P. Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism. Brill Academic Publishers, 2007. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "A New Suggestion for the Reconstruction of 4Q370 1 i 2 and the Blessing of the Most High (Elyon) in Second Temple Judaism." Dead Sea Discoveries 17 (2010): 118-43. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Violence and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Sectarian Formation and Eschatological Imagination." Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches 17 (2009): 12-44. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Prophets and Prophecy in the Qumran Community." Association for Jewish Studies Review 32 (2008): 299-334. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "The Presentation of the Ancient Prophets as Lawgivers at Qumran." Journal of Biblical Literature 127 (2008): 307-337. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Reading Midrash with Maimonides: An Inquiry into the Sources of Maimonides’ Account of the Origins of Idolatry." Australian Journal of Jewish Studies 21 (2007): 170-200.
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Literary and Historical Studies in the Samuel Apocryphon (4Q160)." Journal of Jewish Studies 59 (2008): 21-38. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls." Religion Compass 1 (2007): 1-25. Link
  • Jassen, Alex P. "Intertextual Readings of the Psalms in the Dead Sea Scrolls: 4Q160 (Samuel Apocryphon) and Psalm 40." Revue de Qumran 23/87 (2006): 403-430.

Professional Activities

  • Chair, Early Judaism and Judaic Studies Section: Society of Biblical Literature, Upper Midwest Region , 2009
  • Co-Editor in Chief: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Outreach Activities

  • Academic Advisor: Science Musuem of Minnesota, Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit, 2008 - 2010

Awards

  • McKnight Land Grant Professorship, 2010 - 2012
  • John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, 2009

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Jewish History and Civilization
  • Jewish Mysticism, Magic, and Kabbalah
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Beginning Biblical Hebrew
  • Advanced Classical Hebrew
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