Maren R. Niehoff is Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University. She studies intellectual, cultural and religious encounters between Jews, Christians and “Pagans” in Antiquity, focusing especially on Alexandria and Palaestina. Her comparative work is based on a close reading of ancient texts in a variety of languages and bridges departmental boundaries erected between Greek, Latin and Semitic sources. Her readings are enriched by modern theories, especially post-colonialism.

Her most recent publication is Philo of Alexandria. An Intellectual Biography (Yale University Press 2018, Hebrew and German translations forthcoming at the Kibbutz Ha-Meuhad Publishers and Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen). This book offers for the first time a comprehensive historical analysis of Philo as a Jewish author in the Roman Empire. The chronology of his works is established and his personal history as well as the development of his thought is examined in the context of his education in Alexandria and his subsequent visit to Rome as the head of the Jewish embassy to Gaius. Niehoff argues that Philo increasingly engaged Roman discourses and thus throws important new light on the emergence of early Christianity and the Second Sophistic. The book has already been appraised, for details click here


Niehoff’s previous monographs include Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge University Press 2011, paperback 2014), which won the Polonsky Prize for creativity and originality in the Humanities 2011. In 2001 she published Philo of Alexandria on Jewish Identity and Culture (Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck).

Her most recent edited volume is Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real (Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck). This volume is based on an international conference in Jerusalem and gathers 19 articles from experts in Classics, Hellenistic and rabbinic Judaism as well Christianity. It has recently been reviewed at a special panel at the Society of Biblical Literature Meeting in Denver (November 2018). Niehoff also edited Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters (Leiden, Brill 2012), two volumes of Philo’s work in Hebrew and co-edits the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum.

Maren Niehoff was the co-head of a research group at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies focusing on “Constructions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures” (2017-18) and will be the first Martin Hengel Fellow at Tübingen University in the winter semester of 2019-20.

She is currently working on a new research project entitled “Jews, Christians and ‘Pagans’ in Late Antique Palaestina”, which involves comparative studies of early rabbinic literature, Origen’s oeuvre, including the newly discovered homilies on Psalms, as well as the fragments of the ‘Pagan’ authors Celsus and Porphyry.


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