University of Minnesota
Classical and Near Eastern Studies

Classical and Near Eastern Studies' home page.

Bernard M. Levinson | Scholar of the College, Berman Family Chair in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible

Prof Bernard M Levinson PhD

Classical & Near Eastern Studies 245 Nich Hall 216 Pillsbury Dr SE


For the most current information, please visit Professor Levinson's university website at


  • history of interpretation
  • Jewish studies
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Deuteronomy
  • cuneiform law
  • ancient Near Eastern studies
  • literary approaches to biblical studies
  • divine revelation

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. : Brandeis University, 1991.
  • Visiting Researcher: Biblical and Semetic Languages, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1979-80.
  • M.A.: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 1978.
  • B.A. : York University, Toronto, 1974.


  • Please visit Professor Levinson's website for a current list of publications.
  • Authored Books
  • A More Perfect Torah: At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll. Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible, vol. 1. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2013. Image

  • Legal Revision and Religious Renewal in Ancient Israel. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
    Paperback, published August, 2010.
    Read reviews   Foreign translations    Image

  • Der kreative Kanon: Innerbiblische Schriftauslegung und religionsgeschichtlicher Wandel im alten Israel. Introduction by Prof. Dr. Hermann Spieckermann. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012. This translation of Legal Revision and Religious Renewal in Ancient Israel is a new edition, revised and expanded for the German context.       Image

  • L’Herméneutique de l’innovation: Canon et exégèse dans l’Israël biblique. Preface by Jean Louis Ska. Le livre et le rouleau 24. Brussels: Éditions Lessius, 2005.
    Read reviews      Image

  • “The Right Chorale“: Studies in Biblical Law and Interpretation. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 54; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.
    Paperback, published April, 2011
    Read reviews      Image

  • Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997; paperback, 2002.
    Read reviews      Image

  • Edited Volumes
  • The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance. Edited by Gary Knoppers and Bernard M. Levinson. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2007.
    Read reviews      Image

  • Theory and Method in Biblical and Cuneiform Law: Revision, Interpolation, and Development. Edited by Bernard M. Levinson. Classic Reprints series, Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2006.
    Read reviews      Image

  • Judge and Society in Antiquity. Edited by Aaron Skaist and Bernard M. Levinson. Special double issue of MAARAV: A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures 12.1–2

  • Recht und Ethik im Alten Testament: Beiträge des Symposiums “Das Alte Testament und die Kultur der Moderne“ anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971). Eckart Otto, co-editor, with Walter Dietrich. Münster/London: LIT, 2004
    Read reviews      Image

  • Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Victor H. Matthews and Tikva Frymer-Kensky, co-editors.
    Read reviews      Image

  • Commentaries
  • “Deuteronomy.“ Pages 247–312 In The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Third edition. Edited by Michael D. Coogan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

  • “Deuteronomy.“ Pages 356–450 In The Jewish Study BIble. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

  • Articles and Book Chapters
  • “The Limitations of ‘Resonance.’ A Response to Joshua Berman on Historical and Comparative Method.” (Co-author: Jeffrey Stackert). Journal of Ancient Judaism 4 (2013): 310–333.

  • “La scoperta goethiana della versione ‘originale’ dei Dieci Comandamenti e la sua influenza sulla critica biblica: Il mito del particolarismo ebraico e dell’universalismo tedesco.“ Pages 71–90 in Il roveto ardente: Scritti sull’ebraismo Tedesco in memoria di Francesca Y. Albertini. Edited by Irene Kajon. Rome: Lithos Editrice, 2013. Get Paper

  • “‘This is the Manner of the Remission’: Legal Exegesis and Eschatological Syntax in 11QMelchizedek.“ (Co-author: Michael Bartos). Journal of Biblical Literature 132:2 (2013): 351–371. Get Paper

  • “Between the Covenant Code and Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty: Deuteronomy 13 and the Composition of Deuteronomy.“ (Co-author: Jeffrey Stackert). Journal of Ancient Judaism 3 (2012): 123–140.

  • “The Development of the Jewish Bible: Critical Reflections upon the Concept of a "'Jewish Bible’ and on the Idea of Its "'Development.’" Pages 377–392 in What is Bible? Edited by Karin Finsterbusch and Armin Lange. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2012.

  • “Die neuassyrischen Urspünge der Kanonformel in Deuteronomium 13,1.“ Pages 23–59 in Viele Wege zu dem Einen: Historische Bibelkritik - Die Vitalität der Glaubensüberlieferung in der Moderne. Edited by Stefan Beyerle, Axel Graupner, and Udo Rüterswörden. Biblisch-theologische Studien 121. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2012. Get Paper

  • “Deuteronomy.“ In The Encyclopedia of the Bible. Edited by Michael D. Coogan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011 (in press).

  • “The King James Bible at 400: Scripture, Statecraft, and the American Founding.“ (Co-author: Joshua A. Berman). The History Channel Magazine, special supplement, November 2010, pp.1–11. PDF

  • “Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty as the Source for the Canon Formula in Deuteronomy 13:1.“ Journal of the American Oriental Society 130 (2010): 337–347. Get Paper

  • “The Bible’s Break with Ancient Political Thought to Promote Equality"'It Ain’t Necessarily so.’“ A review article of Joshua Berman, Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought. The Journal of Theological Studies 61:2 (2010): 685–94. Online: doi:10.1093/jts/flq048.

  • "The Neo-Assyrian Origins of the Canon Formula in Deuteronomy 13:1." Pages 25–45 in Scriptural Exegesis: The Shapes of Culture and the Religious Imagination (Essays in Honour of Michael Fishbane). Edited by Deborah A. Green and Laura Lieber, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

  • “Reading the Bible in Nazi Germany: Gerhard von Rad’s Attempt to Reclaim the Old Testament for the Church,“ Interpretation 62.3 (July, 2008): 238–53.

  • “'Du sollst nichts hinzufügen und nichts wegnehmen’ (Dtn 13,1): Rechtsreform und Hermeneutik in der Hebräischen Bibel.“ Pages 62–94 in Houses Full of All Good Things: Essays in Memory of Timo Veijola. Edited by Juha Pakkala and Martti Nissinen. Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society, vol. 95. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008.

  • “How, When, Where, and Why Did the Pentateuch Become the Torah?“ (Co-author: Gary N. Knoppers). Pages 1–19 in The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance. Edited by Bernard M. Levinson and Gary Knoppers. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2007.

  • “The Manumission of Hermeneutics: The Slave Laws of the Pentateuch as a Challenge to Contemporary Pentateuchal Theory.“ Pages 281–324 in Congress Volume Leiden 2004. Edited by André Lemaire. Vetus Testamentum Supplements 109. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2006.

  • “The First Constitution: Rethinking the Origins of Rule of Law and Separation of Powers in Light of Deuteronomy.“ Cardozo Law Review 27:4 (2006): 1853–88.

  • “˜Du sollst nichts hinzufügen und nichts wegnehmen’ (Dtn 13,1): Rechtsreform und Hermeneutik in der Hebräischen Bibel.“ Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 102 (2006): 157–83.

  • “The “˜Effected Object’ in Contractual Legal Language: The Semantics of “˜If You Purchase a Hebrew Slave’ (Exod. xxi 2).“ Vetus Testamentum 56 (2006): 485 –504.

  • “Deuteronomy’s Conception of Law as an “˜Ideal Type’: A Missing Chapter in the History of Constitutional Law.“ In Judge and Society in Antiquity. Edited by Bernard M. Levinson and Aaron Skaist = Maarav: A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures 12:1–2 (2005): 83–119.

  • “The Birth of the Lemma: Recovering the Restrictive Interpretation of the Covenant Code's Manumission Law by the Holiness Code (Lev 25:44–46).“ Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005): 617–639.

  • “The Metamorphosis of Law into Gospel: Gerhard von Rad's Attempt to Reclaim the Old Testament for the Church“ (with Douglas Dance). Pages 83–110 in Recht und Ethik im Alten Testament. Edited by Bernard M. Levinson and Eckart Otto. Münster/London: LIT Verlag, 2004.

  • “Is the Covenant Code an Exilic Composition? A Response to John Van Seters.“ Pages 272–325 inIn Search of Pre-Exilic Israel: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar. Edited by John Day. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series, vol. 406. London & New York: T. & T. Clark, 2004.

  • ““˜You Must Not Add Anything to What I Command You’: Paradoxes of Canon and Authorship in Ancient Israel.“ Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 50:1 (2003): 1–51.

  • “Revelation Regained: The Hermeneutics of יכ and םא in the Temple Scroll“ (Co-author: Molly M. Zahn). Dead Sea Discoveries: A Journal of Current Research on the Scrolls and Related Literature 9:3 (2002): 295–346.

  • “Goethe’s Analysis of Exodus 34 and Its Influence on Julius Wellhausen: The Pfropfung of the Documentary Hypothesis.“ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 114 (2002): 212–23.

  • “The Seductions of the Garden: The Genesis of Hermeneutics as Critique.“ On Interpretation: Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred = Graven Images 5 (2002): 95–99.

  • “The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History’s Transformation of Torah.“ Vetus Testamentum 51 (2001): 511–34.

  • “Textual Criticism, Assyriology, and the History of Interpretation: Deuteronomy 13:7a as a Test Case in Method.“ Journal of Biblical Literature 120 (2001): 211–43.

  • “The Hermeneutics of Tradition in Deuteronomy.“ Journal of Biblical Literature 119 (2000): 269–86.

  • “The Covenant at Mount Sinai: The Argument of Revelation.“ Pages 23–27 in The Jewish Political Tradition, vol. 1: Authority. Edited by Michael Walzer, Menachem Lorberbaum, and Noam J. Zohar. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000.

  • “Recovering the Lost Original Meaning of וילע הסכת אלו (Deut 13:9).“ Journal of Biblical Literature 115 (1996): 601–20.

  • ““˜But You Shall Surely Kill Him!’: The Text-Critical and Neo-Assyrian Evidence for MT Deuteronomy 13:10.“ Pages 37–63 in Bundesdokument und Gesetz: Studien zum Deuteronomium. Edited by Georg Braulik. Herder’s Biblical Studies 4. Freiburg: Herder, 1995.

  • “The Case for Revision and Interpolation within the Biblical Legal Corpora.“ Pages 37–59 in Theory and Method in Biblical and Cuneiform Law: Revision, Interpolation and Development. Edited by Bernard M. Levinson. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series, vol. 181. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994.

  • “The Case for Grounding Biblical Hermeneutics upon the Diachronic Method.“ Pages 93–108 in Literary Theory and Biblical Hermeneutics. Edited by Tibor Fabiny. Papers in English and American Studies 4. Szeged, Hungary: Attila Jozsef University, 1992.

  • “The Human Voice in Divine Revelation: The Problem of Authority in Biblical Law." Pages 35–71 in Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change. Edited by Michael A. Williams, Martin S. Jaffee, and Collett Cox. Religion and Society 31. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992.

  • “˜The Right Chorale’: From the Poetics of Biblical Narrative to the Hermeneutics of the Hebrew Bible.“ Pages 129–53 (notes on pp. 242–47) in “Not in Heaven“: Coherence and Complexity in Biblical Narrative. Edited by Jason P. Rosenblatt and Joseph C. Sitterson. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

  • "Calum M. Carmichael’s Approach to the Laws of Deuteronomy." Harvard Theological Review 83 (1990): 227–57.

  • Reviews, Notes, and Similar
  • Conference Report on “Betrayal of the Humanities: The University during the Third Reich," University of Minnesota, April 15–16, 2012. (Co-author: Melissa Kelley). Association of Contemporary Church Historians (ACCH) Quarterly 18:2 (2012) 28–30.

  • Essay review of Jo Ann Hackett, A Basic Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Review of Biblical Literature PDF (Published 1/2/2011).

  • Essay review of Michael Fishbane, Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 64 (2010): 294–300. PDF

  • Review of Susannah Heschel, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologian and the Bible in Nazi Germany. (Co-author: Tina Sherman). Review of Biblical Literature [] PDF (2010).

  • “Bible: Law.“ Pages 85–87 in Reader’s Guide to Judaism. Edited by Michael Terry. Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.

  • Review of Martha T. Roth, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 59 (2000): 119–121.

  • Two dozen entries in Harper’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Society of Biblical Literature, Harper & Row, 1985; second edition, 1997.

  • “McConville’s Law and Theology in Deuteronomy.“ Jewish Quarterly Review 80 (1990): 396–404 (review article).

Professional Activities

  • “The Pentateuch within Biblical Literature: Formation and Interaction," International Conference, Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Co-organizers: Jan Christian Gertz (Heidelberg University), Bernard M. Levinson (University of Minnesota), Dalit Rom-Shiloni (Tel Aviv University), and Konrad Schmid (University of Zurich): May 25–29, 2014.
  • "The Betrayal of the Humanities: The University during the Third Reich.“ This interdisciplinary symposium brought together thirteen specialists from Europe and North America to examine the transformation of the major disciplines of the humanities under National Socialism and the lasting legacy of those changes into the present. Bernard Levinson, Co-organizer (with Bruno Chaouat), University of Minnesota: April 15–16, 2012.
  • Co-initiator, “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,“ Wilson Library, University of Minnesota: January 25, 2012–February 15, 2012.
  • Co-organizer (with Susan Gangl and Tim Johnson), “The Word Made Flesh,“ Wilson Library, University of Minnesota: November 28, 2011–February 24, 2012.
  • Co-editor, Journal of Ancient Judaism Supplement Series: 2010-
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Ancient Judaism: 2010-
  • Editorial Board, International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament: 2005-
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Biblical Literature: 1998–2001; 2001–2004
  • Editorial Board, Zeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte: 1994–
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton: 1997
  • Associate Fellow, Center for Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania: 1997
  • Jewish Studies Lectures Committee: 1999
  • Near Eastern History Search Committee: 1999
  • Chair, Berman Family in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible
  • Religion in Antiquity MA Proposal Committee: 1999
  • Chair, Rabbinics Search Committee: 1998-1999

Outreach Activities

  • "'You Must Not Add Anything To What I Command You’: Paradoxes of Canon And Authorship in Ancient Israel,“ 56th Annual Guest Lecture, Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, May 2, 2012.
  • “The Struggle for the Old Testament in Nazi Germany: The Untold Story of Gerhard von Rad,“ Or Emet: Minnesota Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, St. Louis Park, MN, April 27, 2012.
  • “Goethe and the Ten Commandments: Germans and the Myth of Jewish Exclusiveness,“ University of Minnesota Center for Jewish Studies Community Lecture Series, Bet Shalom Congregation, Minnetonka, MN, March 1, 2012.
  • “The King James Bible: Scripture, Statecraft, and the American Founding,“ Manifold Greatness Colloquium, University of Minnesota, February 3, 2012.
  • “The Decalogue,“ Society of Biblical Literature Interview for the “Bible Odyssey“ website, Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, San Francisco, CA, November 19, 2011.
  • “Transgenerational Punishment in the Ten Commandments and the Alternative Notion of Individual Retribution,“ Triangle Seminar for Jewish Studies, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, April 11, 2011.
  • Interviewed for and quoted in “Six Other Calamities Blamed on Divine Retribution,“ by Dan Gilgoff, Belief Blog,, March 16, 2011 [online:].
  • “God’s Doubt and the Akedah,“ text study at Beth Jacob Congregation, Saint Paul: April 25, 2010
  • “Teaching Creation,“ Minneapolis Minne-CAJE conference, Saint Paul: January 17, 1999
  • “Authorship and Authority in the Bible,“ Hillel Sunday Faculty Brunch: January 10, 1999


  • Scholar of the College, 2010-2013
  • Elected Fellow, American Academy for Jewish Research, 2010
  • Henry Luce Senior Fellow in Religion, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, 2010
  • University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Award, 2009
  • Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Berlin Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship, 2007
  • National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Research Stipend, 2004
  • Appointment to membership in Biblical Colloquium, 2003
  • McNight Arts and Humanities Summer Fellow, 1999
  • University of Minnesota Faculty Summer Research Fellowship, 1999
  • Co-recipient of the Salo W. Baron Award for Best Book in Literature and Thought, American Academy for Jewish Research, 1999
  • Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), School of Social Science, 1997
  • Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1997
  • NEH Summer Grant nomination; Indiana University Fellowship, 1995
  • Stroum Fellowship for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, University of Washington, 1987

Courses Taught

  • ANE 1/3002, RelA 3202 - Bible-Prophetic Texts
  • JwSt 5513, Scripture and Interpretation
  • Biblical/Classical Hebrew (all levels)
  • Bible: Context and Interpretation
  • Biblical Law and Jewish Ethics
  • Silencing the Gods
  • RELS 8190, Comparative Seminar in Religions in Antiquity (co-taught with Prof. Sellew)
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