Daniel Boyarin

Professor Emeritus

Near Eastern Studies

PhD (Talmud), Jewish Theological Seminary

Image of Daniel Boyarin


250 Barrows Hall





Research Interests

The invention of Christianity & Judaism
The Babylonian Talmud

I’m working on a book to be called, How the Jews Got Religion in which I will argue that the very notion of “religion” is of Christian origins to serve particular discursive needs of Christianity, resisted by Jews–for whom there is not native word that means Judaism until the 18th century. I will be teaching the material for this new book in my Rhetoric of Religion course in Spring 2012, which should be understood as the Rhetoric of “Religion.”


“Apartheid Comparative Religion in the Second Century: Some Theory and a Case Study in Reading,” in Theory and the Pre-Modern Text, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 36.1 (Winter, 2006), 3-34.      

“De/Re/constructing Midrash,” in Current Trends in the Study of Midrash, ed. Carol Bakhos (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2006), 299-321.

“Why Is Rabbi Yoḥanan a Woman?;, or a Queer Marriage Gone Bad: ‘Platonic Love’ in the Talmud,” in Authorizing Marriage?: Canon, Tradition, and Critique in the Blessing of Same-sex Unions, ed. Mark Jordan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 52-67 and 178-184.

“Anecdotal Evidence: The Yavneh Conundrum, Birkat Hamminim, and the Problem of Talmudic Historiography,” in The Mishna in Contemporary Perspective, ed. Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner (2006).

“What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Platonic Love,” in Toward a Theology of Eros: Transfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline, ed. Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller (New York: Fordham University Press: 2006), pp. 3-22 and 375-384.

“Talmud and “Fathers of the Church”: Theologies and the Making of Books,” in The Early Christian Book, ed. by William E. Klingshirn and Linda Safran (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2007), pp. 69-85.

“Hellenism in Jewish Babylonia,” in The Cambridge Companion to Rabbinic Literature, eds. Charlotte Fonrobert, Martin Jaffee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 336-363.

“Philo, Origen, and the Rabbis on Divine Speech and Interpretation,” Essays in Honor of David W. Johnson, ed. James E. Goehring and Janet A. Timbie (Washington, D. C., Catholic University Press, 2007), pp. 113-129.

“Against Rabbinic Theology: Textual Reasoning and the Jewish Theology of Sex,” in Queer Theology:Rethinking the Western Body, Ed. Gerard Loughlin (Oxford, Blackwell, 2007, pp. 131-146.

“The Christian Invention of Judaism: The Theodosian Empire and the Rabbinic Refusal of Religion,” in Religion, Beyond a Concept, ed. Hent de Vries (New York, Fordham University Press, 2008), pp. 150-177.

“The Scandal of Sophism: On the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism,” Common Knowledge, special issue, A “Dictatorship of Relativism,” Vo. 13, 2-3 (Spring 2007), 315-336. 

“Dialectic and Divination in the Talmud,” The End of Ancient Dialogue, ed. Simon Goldhill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2008), 217-241.      

“The Talmud as a Fat Rabbi: A Novel Approach,” Text and Talk, 28:5 (September 2008), 603-620.

“Patron Saint of the Incongruous: Rabbi Meʾir, The Talmud, and Menippean Satire,” Critical Inquiry, 35:3 (2009), 523-551.

“Paul among the Antiphilosophers; or, Saul among the Sophists,” in St. Paul Among the Philosophers, ed. John D. Caputo and Linda Martin Alcoff (Indiana University Press: 2009), 109-141.

“Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and Jewish Masculinity,” in Krondorfer, Björn, ed. Men and Masculinities in Christianity and Judaism: A Critical Reader (London: SCM Press: 2009), 79-95, excerpted from Unheroic Conduct.

“Sleeping with a Prophet: On the Erotic Adventures of Rabbi Meir.” Jewish/Christian/queer. Jewish/Christian/Queer: Crossroads and Identities. Ed. Frederick Roden. Queer Interventions. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 35–46.

“Beyond Judaisms: Meṭaṭron and the Divine Polymorphy of Ancient Judaism,” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods (41:2010), 1-43.

“The Sovereignty of the Son of Man: Reading Mark 2,” in, Robert Coote and Annette Weissenrieder, The Interface of Orality and Writing [Annette Wire Festschrift] (Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen: 2010), 352-361.

“Othello’s Penis; or, Islam in the Closet,” Shakesqueer, ed. Madhavi Menon (Duke University Press, Durham, NC: 2010), 254-262.

“How Enoch can Teach us About Jesus,” Early Christianity (2:1: 2011), 51-76.
“Deadly Dialogue: Thucydides with Plato,” Representations (117: Winter, 2012), 59-85.
“The Double Mark of the Male Muslim: Eraceing Othello,” Race and Political Theology, ed. Vincent Lloyd  (Duke University Press, 2012), 174-187.
“Daniel 7, Intertextuality, and the History of Israel’s Cult,” Harvard Theological Review 105:2 (2012) 139–62. 
“A Jewish Reader of Jesus: Mark, the Evangelist,” Jesus Among the Jews, ed. Neta Stahl (Routledge, 2012), 6-17. 
“Medieval and Modern Philology: Notes on the First Sugya of BT Nazir,” Shoshannat Ya’akov (Festschrift for Ya’akov Ellman) (Brill, 2012), 21-32. 
“Once Again ‘Birkat Hamminim’ Revisited,” La croisée des chemins revisitée, ed. Bernard Poudheron, Simon Claude Mimouni (Cerf, 2012),  91-106. 
“Carnaval à Soura : Bakhtine et le Talmud de Babylone,” Yod: Revue des etudes Hebraiques et Juives 18: Le Proche-Orient ancien à la lumière des sciences sociales (2013) 73-85.  
“Is Metatron A Converted Christian?,” Judaïsme ancien 1 (2013) 13-62. 
“The Talmud in Jesus: How Much Jewishness in Mark’s Christ?,” Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schaefer on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, edds.  Ra’anan Boustan, Klaus Hermann, Reimund Leicht, Annette Yoshiko Reed, and Giuseppe Veltri, with the collaboration of Alex Ramos (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013) 
“Two Notes on the «Jewishness» of the New Testament,” Rivista Biblica, 4 (2014) 457-469.
“Der Menschensohn in 1. Henoch under 4. Esra: Andere Jüdische Messiasse im 1. Jahrhundert,” Berliner Theologische Zeitschrift 31:1 (2014) 41-63.
“Friends Without Benefits; or, Academic Love,” in Sex in Antiquity, ed. Mark Masterson et al (Routledge, 2015), 517-535.
“Thrēskeia in 4 Maccabees,” in Sybils, Scripture, and Scrolls: John Collins at 70 (Leiden, 2016), 209-224.
“Midrash in Hebrews / Hebrews as Midrash,” in Hebrews in Context, eds. Gabrielle Giardini and Harry Attridge (Leiden, 2016), 15-29. 
“Henoch und Metatron, der „Fürst der göttlichen Gegenwart“: „Apokalypse“ und der „zweite Gott,“ in Vermittelte Gegenwart: Konzeptionen der Gottespräsenz von der Zeit des Zweiten Tempels bis Anfang des 2. Jahrhunderts n.Chr., eds. Andrea Taschl-Erber und Irmtraud Fischer (Tübingen, 2016), 125-150.  
“The Word and Allegory; or, Origen on the Jewish Question,” in Allegorie DFG-Symposion 2014, Herausgegeben von Ulla Haselstein in Zusammenarbeit mit Friedrich Teja Bach, Bettine Menke und Daniel Selden (De Gruyter: Berlin, 2016), 31-66.
“Im Land Des Talmud—Die Textuelle Herausbildung Eines Diasporavolks,” in Denkraum Spätantike: Reflexionen von Antiken Im Umfeld Des Koran, Herausgegeben von Nora Schmidt, Nora K. Schmid und Angelika Neuwirth, Episteme in Bewegung: Beiträge zu einer Transdisziplinären Wissensgeschichte Band 5 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016), 39–71.
“The Concept of Translation in American Religious Studies,” Critical Inquiry, Summer 2017, 17-39.
“Apologetik und die Entstehung von Religion” in Durchblicke Horizonte jüdischer Kulturgeschichte, Susanne Plietzsch / Armin Eidherr (Hrsg.) (Berlin: Neofelis Verlag, 2017), 32-50


2005 Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2006 Awarded American Academy of Religion prize for excellence in the study of religion (historical studies) for Border Lines.
2008 Faculty Research Lecture, UC Berkeley

Thesis Supervision

Dalia Hoshen — The Fire-Symbol in the Literature of the Sages (PhD., Bar-Ilan University, 1990).
Christine Hayes — Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Accounting for Halakhic Difference in Selected Sugyot from Tractate Avodah Zarah (PhD., Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 1993).
Rachel Arava — “Precious Shall be Your Blood”: Women’s Perception and Experience of Menstruation in Traditional Judaism (Master’s Thesis [Master’s of Science, Health and Medical Sciences, UC Berkeley, 1993]).
Charlotte Fonrobert — Women’s Bodies, Women’s Blood: Politics of Gender in Rabbinic Literature (PhD., Center for Jewish Studies, GTU, 1995).
Shlomo Fischer — The “Give and Take” of the Babylonian Talmud: Discourse and the Spirit of Carnival (Master’s, Touro College, Jerusalem, 1996).
Jonathan Lee Seidel — Studies in Ancient Jewish Magic (PhD., Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 1997).
Willis Johnson — Between Christians and Jews: The Formation of Anti-Jewish Stereotypes in Medieval England (PhD., Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 1997).
Gil Anidjar — At Our Place in Al-Andalus: Declinations of Place in Jewish Letters (PhD., Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley, 1997)–codirected with Judith Butler.
Nina Caputo “And God Rested on the Seventh Day…”: Time, History and Creation in Medieval Jewish Culture– (PhD. Department of History, UC Berkeley, 1999)–co-directed with Geoffrey Koziol
Azzan Yadin (Meir-Levy) — Imitatio Scripturae: Torah and Hermeneutics in the Rabbi Ishmael
Midrashim (PhD. Joint Program in Jewish Studies, UC Berkeley, 1999).
Ruti Kadish– “Mothers and Soldiers: Israeli Lesbian and Gay Negotiations of Jewish, National, and Sexual Identity (Ph D, Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 2001)
Natan Margalit– “Life Containing Texts: The Mishna’s Discourse of Gender, A Literary/Anthropological Analysis (Ph D, Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 2001)
Robert Daum — Describing Yavneh: The Foundational Traditions of Rabbinic Judaism (Ph D, Near-Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley, 2001)
Avi Warshavsky — On Talmudic Inferences, Reflective Sugiyot and Philosophy of Language (Masters Thesis, Department of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University, 2001)
Ronald Kenneth Reissberg — A Tale of Two Cities: From Caesarea to Nisibis, The Christian Impact on Jewish Theology (PhD, department of history, UC Davis, 2003), codirected with David Biale
Serguei Dolgopolsky — The Rhetoric of the Talmud in the Perspective of Post-Structuralism (PhD, Jewish Studies, UC Berkeley, 2004)
Rachel Havrelock — The Jordan River: Crossing A Biblical Boundary (PhD, Jewish Studies, UC Berkeley, 2004)
Henry Millstein — Embodying Empire: Rabbinic and early Christian representations of Roman power (PhD, Jewish Studies, UC Berkeley, 2006)
Vincent Lloyd:– “Beyond Supersessionism: Gillian Rose and the Rhetoric of Transcendence” (Rhetoric) (PhD, Rhetoric, 2008)
Julia Watts Belser– “Between the Human and the Holy: The Construction of Talmudic Theology in Massekhet Ta’anit” (PhD, Jewish Studies, 2008)
Eliyahu Stern — Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Rabbinic Judaism (PhD, Jewish Studies, 2008)
Michael Castori — ‘Israel and the Nations’ in The Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael and Origen’s Homilies on Exodus: A Study in Biblical Interpretation. (PhD, Near Eastern Religions, UC Berkeley, 2008)
Zvi Septimus — The Invention of the Talmud by its Readers (PhD,)Jewish Studies, 2011)