University of Washington

Comparative Religion

Thomson Hall Room 433
(206) 543-4835

Martin S. Jaffee


Professor, Comparative Religion and Jewish Studies
Thomson Hall, Box 353650
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(updated: 11/7/07)


  • B.A., Religion, Syracuse University, 1972
  • M.A., Religion, Florida State University, 1974
  • Ph.D., Religious Studies, Brown University, 1980


  • Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellow, 1978-80
  • University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Associate, 1985
  • University of Washington Arts & Humanities Faculty Scholar, 1992
  • NEH Fellowship for University Teachers, 1998-99
  • American Society for the Study of Religion (elected by peers), 2004
  • Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Journalism, Jewish Press Association of America, 2007


  • Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, University of Virginia, 1980-87
  • Visiting Professor, Jewish Studies, Iliff School of Theology, 1983
  • Associate Professor, Jewish Studies & Comparative Religion, University of Washington, 1987-1995
  • Professor, Jewish Studies & Comparative Religion, University of Washington, 1995-
  • Samuel & Althea Stroum Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Washington, 1998-2000
  • Andrea & Charles Bronfman Distinguished Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies, College of William & Mary, Fall 1999
  • Stanley D. Golub Professor of International Studies,  University of Washington, 2000-2001
  • Samuel & Althea Stroum Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Washington, 2008-   


  • History of Judaism
  • Jewish Cultural History
  • Rabbinic Literature and Thought
  • Jewish Mysticism
  • Modern Jewish Thought
  • Religion in Western Civilization
  • Theory in Study of Religion
  • Gender Studies




  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department  Religious Studies, University of Virginia, 1983-85
  • Acting Chair, Jewish Studies Program, University of Washington, 1988-89
  • Chair, Comparative Religion Program, University of Washington, 1991-2000
  • Acting Director, Jackson School of International Studies, 2000-01
  • Acting Chair, Comparative Religion Program, University of Washington, 2003-05


  • Editorial Board, Brown Judaic Studies, 1980-82
  • Area Editor: Judaism, Religious Studies Review, 1987-94
  • Editorial Board, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1999-2004
  • Advisory Editor, Grolier Encyclopedia of American Studies, 2000
  • Editor (with H. Kieval), AJS Review, 2002-2008


  • Committee on the Standing of the Profession, Association for Jewish Studies, 1990-95
  • Steering Committee, History of Judaism, American Academy of Religion, 1991-95
  • Section Coordinator, Talmud, Midrash & Rabbinics, Association for Jewish Studies, 1995-97
  • Corresponding Fellow, Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies of Bar-Ilan University, 1996-current
  • Board of Directors, Association for Jewish Studies, 1997-99;  ex officio, 2003-08.
  • Manuscript Referee for: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, University of California Press, Stanford University Press, Westview Press, State University of New York Press, University of Chicago Press, New York University Press, University of Washington Press, McGraw Hill Publishers
  • Tenure & Promotion Review Referee for: Bar-Ilan University, Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University, Emory University, Indiana University, University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Stanford University, Yale University, New York University, University of Toronto, University of Connecticut, University of Alabama, University of Pennsylvania
  • Nominator, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur  Foundation

9. Co-edited with C. Fonrobert, The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and  Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge University Press,  2007)

8. Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE-400CE (Oxford University Press, 2001)
Reviewed in  AJL Newsletter 21 (2001); Review of Biblical Literature 7 (2003); Journal for the Study of Judaism 34 (2003); Journal  of Jewish Studies 54 (2003); Religious Studies Review 29 (2003); AJS Review 27 (2003); Journal of Religion 84 (2004); Prooftexts 24 (2004); Shofar 23 (2005)

7. Co-edited with J. Corrigan, F. Denny and C. Eire, Readings in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Prentice-Hall, 1998).

6. Co-authored with J. Corrigan, F. Denny and C. Eire, Jews, Christians, Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions (Prentice-Hall, 1998).

5. Early Judaism: Religious Worlds of the First Judaic Millennium (Prentice-Hall, 1997; 2nd  revised edition,   Press of the University of Maryland,  2006)
Reviewed in Shofar 15 (1997); Ioudaios Review 7 (1997);  Journal of Religion 77 (1997); Journal of Jewish Studies 49 (1998); Henoch 20 (1998)

4. Co-edited, with C. Cox and M. Williams, Innovation and Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change (Mouton de Gruyter, 1992)
Reviewed in Theological Book Review  3 (1993); Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 20 (1994); Journal for the Study of Religion 1 (1995)

3. The Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation.  Volume 7. Maaserot (University of Chicago Press, 1987)

2. The Talmud of Babylonia: An American Translation. XXVI.
Tractate Horayot  (Scholars Press, 1987)
   Reviewed in Jewish Quarterly Review 79 (1988-89)

1. Mishnah's Theology of Tithing: A Study of Tractate Maaserot (Scholars Press, 1981;  reprinted in a corrected edition under the title Mishnah-Tosefta Maaserot: Text and Commentary, in Jacob Neusner, ed., The Law of Agriculture in the Mishnah and the  Tosefta: Translation, Commentary, Theology, vol. 3, [E.J. Brill, 2005])
  Reviewed in Hebrew Studies 24 (1983)

 Scholarly Monographs, Articles, Essays and Translations (*=refereed material):
41.  “Introduction,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature, co-authored with Charlotte Fonrobert  (Cambridge University Press,  2007).

40. “Rabbinic Authorship as a Collective Enterprise,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge University Press,  2007).

39.  “What Difference Does the Orality of Rabbinic Writing Make for the Interpretation of Rabbinic Writings?” in M. Kraus, ed.,  How Should Rabbinic Texts Be Read in the Modern World? (Gorgias Press, 2006)
38. “Oral Transmission of Knowledge as Rabbinic Sacrament: An Overlooked Aspect of Discipleship in Oral Torah,” in H. Kreisel, ed., Study and Knowledge in Jewish Thought (Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2006).
37. “Inner-Worldly Monasticism: Towards a Model of Rabbinic-Halakhic Spirituality,” Monograph Series of the Center for Traditional Orthodox Studies, # 40 (2006)

36.   “Gender and Otherness in Rabbinic Oral Culture: On Gentiles, Undisciplined Jews, and Their Women,” in R. Horsely  and J. Foley, eds., Performing the Gospel: A Festschrift for Werner Kelber  (Fortress Press, 2006)

35. “The Wars of Torah: The Sublimation of Violence in Rabbinic Piety,” (Lecture published by University of Oregon Humanites Center; Eugene, OR, 2006).

34. “Rabbinic Oral Tradition in Late Byzantine Galilee: Christian Empire and Rabbinic Ideological Resistance,” in T. Draper, ed.,  Semeia: Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity  (SBL, 2004)

33.   “Personal Self-Disclosure, Religious Studies Pedagogy, and the Skeptical Mission of the Public University,” CSSR Bulletin (April, 2004), published with four responses and the author’s rejoinder.

32. “Spoken, Written, Incarnate: Ontologies of Textuality in Classical Rabbinic Judaism," in M. Modiano, Textual Studies at the Millennium (University of Washington Press, 2004)

31. “Oral Tradition and Rabbinic Studies,” in Oral Tradition 18 (2003)

30. “How the Mishnah Makes a Theological Statement,” in J. Neusner & A. J. Avery-Peck, The Blackwell Reader in Judaism, (Blackwell, 2001)

*29. “One God, One Revelation, One People: On the Symbolic Structure of Elective Monotheism” in  Journal of the American Academy of Religion  69 (2001)

*28. "Oral Tradition and the Writings of Rabbinic Oral Torah," in Oral Tradition 14 (1999)

27. "Oral Culture in Scriptural Religion: Some Exploratory Studies," in Religious Studies Review 24 (1998)

*26. "The Oral-Cultural Matrix of the Talmud Yerushalmi: Comparative Perspectives on Rhetorical Paideia, Discipleship, and the Concept of Oral Torah," in P. Schaefer, ed., The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture, I (Mohr Siebeck, 1998).
Anthologized in  I. Gershoni and Y. Elman, eds., Transmission of Jewish Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)

25. "The Hebrew Scriptures," in John Miles Foley, ed., Teaching Oral Tradition (Modern Language Association, 1998)

*24. "Fessing Up in Theory: Professing and Confessing in the Religious Studies Classroom," Journal of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 9:4 (1997).
Anthologized in  R.T. McCutcheon, ed., The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader (London & New York: Cassell, 1999)

*23. "A Rabbinic Ontology of the Written and Spoken Word: On Discipleship, Transformative Knowledge, and the Living Texts of Oral Torah," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65:3 (1997)

*22. "Voices in the Page: Representing the Palestinian Talmud in English," Prooftexts 16:2 (1996)

*21. "Halakhah as Primordial Tradition: A Gadamerian Dialogue with Early Rabbinic Memory and Jurisprudence", in S. Kepnes, ed., Interpreting Judaism in a Postmodern Age (New York University Press, 1996)

20. "Figuring Early Rabbinic Literary Culture: Thoughts Occasioned by Boomershine and Dewey," in J. Dewey, ed., Semeia 65: Orality and Textuality in Early Christian Literature (Scholars Press, 1995)

*19. "Writing and Rabbinic Oral Tradition: On Mishnaic Narrative, Lists and Mnemonics," Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy 4:1 (1994)

18. "Response to Eugene J. Fisher", Journal of Ecumenical Studies 29:1 (1993)

17. "Halakhah in Early Rabbinic Judaism: Innovation Beyond Exegesis, Tradition Before Oral Torah", in Cox, Jaffee and Williams, eds., Innovation and Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change (Mouton de Gruyter, 1992)

*16. "The Victim Community in Myth and History: The Holocaust, The Question of Palestine and Contemporary Christian Witness", Journal of Ecumenical Studies 28:2 (1992)

*15. "How Much Orality in Oral Torah? New Perspectives on the Compilation and Transmission of Early Rabbinic Tradition", Shofar 10:2 (1992)

*14. "The Hermeneutical Model of Midrashic Studies: What it Reveals and What it Conceals", Prooftexts 11:1 (1991)

*13. "The Taqqanah in Tannaitic Literature: Jurisprudence and the Construction of Rabbinic Memory", Journal of Jewish Studies 41:2 (1990)

12. "Halakhic Personhood: The Existential Hermeneutic of Worship and Ethics", in P. Ochs, ed., Understanding the Rabbinic Mind: Essays on the Hermeneutic of Max Kadushin (Scholars Press, 1990)

11. "The Babylonian Appropriation of the Talmud Yerushalmi: Redactional Studies in the Horayot Tractates", in A. Avery-Peck, ed., New Perspectives on Ancient Judaism.  Volume IV.  The Literature of Early Rabbinic Judaism: Issues in Talmudic Redaction and Interpretation (University Press of America, 1989)

10. "Introduction to the Second Edition" of Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man (Humanities Press International, 1988)

9. "Mishnah Maaserot", in J. Neusner, ed., The Mishnah: A New Translation (Yale University Press, 1988)

8. "The Pretext of Interpretation: Rabbinic Exegesis and the Charisma of Revelation", in R. Scharlemann, ed., God in Language (Paragon House, 1987)

7. "Tosefta Maaserot", in J. Neusner and R. Sarason, eds., The Tosefta: Zeraim, the Order of Agriculture (KTAV. 1987)

*6. "Mishnaic Literary History and the History of a Mishnaic Idea: The Formation of the Mishnah's Theory of Intention, With Special Reference to Tractate Maaserot", AJS Review 11:2 (1986)

*5. "Oral Torah in Theory and Practice: Aspects of Mishnah-Exegesis in the Palestinian Talmud", Religion 15:2 (1985)

4. "The Midrashic Proem: Towards the Description of Rabbinic Exegesis", in W. Green, ed., Approaches to Ancient Judaism.  Volume IV (Scholars Press, 1983)

3. "The Mishnah in Rabbinic Exegesis: Observations on Tractate Maaserot of the Talmud Yerushalmi" (ibid.)

2. "The Division of Agriculture Before the Wars: Maaserot", in J. Neusner, Judaism: The Evidence of the Mishnah (University of Chicago Press, 1981)

1. "Deciphering Mishnaic Lists: A Form-Analytical Approach", in W. Green, ed., Approaches to Ancient Judaism. Volume III (Scholars Press, 1981)

Encyclopedia Contributions Have Appeared In::

  • Reader’s Guide to Judaism (Fitzroy Dearborn  Publishers, 2000), s.v. “Oral Tradition.”
  • Encyclopedia of  American Studies (Grolier: 2001), s.v. “Judaism.”
  • Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe (Microsoft: 2004), s.v. , “Biblical Criticism,” “Hasidism,” “Judaism.”
  • Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed (Macmillan: 2004), s.v., “Discipleship,” “Oral Torah,” “Torah.”

Review Essays and Shorter Reviews Have Appeared In::

  • AJS Review
  • Ancient History Bulletin
  • Congress Monthly
  • Critical Review of Books in Religion
  • Hebrew Studies
  • Ioudaios Review
  • Journal of the American Academy of Religion
  • Journal of Biblical Literature
  • Journal of Hebrew Scriptures
  • Journal of Religion
  • Menorah
  • Prooftexts
  • Religion
  • Religious Studies Review
  • Shofar
  • Textual Reasoning


Current Projects:

Book: In the Mouth Are These Words: A Critical Anthology of Rabbinic Texts From and About the Oral Tradition (in preparation)

Book: Fragments of Transcendance: Meditations on Rabbinic Spirituality for a Time of Horrors (in preparation)

Book Chapter:  “Honi the Circler in Manuscript and Memory: On “Re-Oralizing the Talmudic Text,” in W. Kelber and S. Byrskog, eds., Jesus in Memory, for Baylor University Press (accepted)

Encyclopedia Entry: “Rabbinic Judaism,” in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, for Oxford University Press (accepted and in press)




            In addition to scholarly papers read at numerous regional and national meetings of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Association for Jewish Studies and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the following papers and addresses were prepared in response to invitations from the host institutions.

  • Princeton University (January, 2007), “Revelation as Sacrament: Some Typological Peculiarities of Rabbinic Theories of Oral Torah,” presented at  “Colloquium on Revelation, Literature and Community in Antiquity”
  • University of Texas, Austin (December, 2006): “Jewish Studies for the 21st Century”
  • St. Gregory Palamas Monastery (November, 2006), “Kabbalah, Hasidism, and Jewish Spirituality”
  • St. Martin’s University (June 2006): public lectures on “Scripture,” “Fundamentalism,” “Gender,” and “Mysticism,” at conference on “ One God: Three Faiths,” sponsored by Spritual Life Institute.
  • Reed College (March, 2006): “War Against the Divided Soul: Notes Toward a Rabbinic Psychology of Religion”
  • Reed College (March, 2006):” Faculty Seminar: Judaic Materials in the Classics Curriculum”
  • University of Washington (February 2006): Annual Founders Lecture on Religion in the Contemporary World: “Remember Amalek:  The Eternal Antisemite and the Politics of  Contemporary Jewish Memory”
  • Indiana University (January 2006): “It Don’t Mean a Thing If  It Ain’t Got That Swing: Collective Authorship, Oral Performance, and the Composition of the Rabbinic Song Book.
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (June, 2004): “Oral Transmission of Knowledge as Rabbinic Sacrament: An Overlooked Aspect of Discipleship in Oral Torah.” Presented at conference on “Knowledge and Learning in Jewish Thought.”
  • University of Oregon (May, 2004): “The Wars of Torah: Moral Critique and Historical Victory in Jewish Tradition.” Presented at conference on “War and Peace in the Abrahamic Traditions”
  • Williams College (October, 2003): “What Difference Does the ‘Orality’ of Rabbinic Writing Make For the Interpretation of Rabbinic Writings?” Presented at a conference on “How Should Late Antique Rabbinic Literature Be Read in the Modern World: Hermeneutical Limits and Possibilities.”
  • University of Notre Dame (December, 2002):   “Gentiles, Undisciplined Jews, and their Women.” Presented to the Theology Department’s Colloquium on Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity
  • University of Alabama(November, 2002): Aaron Aronov Lecture: “’Can I Offer a Personal Example?’ Personal Self-Disclosure, Religious Studies Pedagogy, and the Skeptical Mission of the Public University”
  • University of California, Los Angeles (February, 2002): “Torah in the Mouth as a Rhetoric of Monotheism,” presented at a conference on “Torah in the Mouth: Oral and Written Transmission in Jewish Culture,” sponsored by UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.
  • Washington University (February, 2000) Cherrick Lecture: "Writing, Orality, and Revelation in Second Temple Judaism"
  • Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (February, 2000): "The Symbolic Structure of Elective Monotheism: Exploring a New Paradigm for Comparisons of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam," presented to Colloquium on "How to Compare Religions," sponsored by The Jacob Taubes Minerva Center for Religious Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University.
  • University of Washington (December, 1999): "Jerusalem, Sacred Space, and the Rabbinic Imagination," presented as part of the "Jerusalem Lecture Series in Celebration of the Comparative Religion Program's 25th Anniversary"
  • College of William & Mary (October, 1999), Andrea and Charles Bronfman Lecture in Jewish Studies:  "Greco-Roman Rhetoric and Rabbinic Culture"
  • University of Washington (February, 1999), Solomon Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities, "Torah in the Mouth: Oral Tradition and Religious Transformation in Classical Rabbinic Culture"
  • University of Washington (October, 1997): "Spoken, Written, Incarnate," presented to International Conference on Voice, Text, and Hypertext at the Millenium
  • Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (October, 1996): "The Oral-Cultural Matrix of the Talmud Yerushalmi"
  • Jewish Theological Seminary of America (March, 1996): Bokser Memorial Visiting Lecturer: "Discipleship and the Authority of the Living Master"
  • University of Michigan (November, 1995): Frankel Lecturer in Rabbinic Studies, "Orality Studies and Rabbinic Literature"
  • Yale University (October, 1993): "Hannah's Challenge to Heaven: Bavli Berakhot 31b," presented to Conference on Approaches to Midrash
  • Ohio State University: Resler Lecture in Comparative Studies (May, 1993): "Manuscripts, Living Texts and Oral Torah: On the Meaning of a Rabbinic Myth"
  • Rice University (March, 1993): "The History of Judaism as the History of Religions"
  • University of Tennessee, Chatanooga (Nov., 1990): "The Written Foundations of Rabbinic Oral Tradition"
  • University of California, San Diego (May, 1990): "Rabbinic Jurisprudence and Legal Institutions"
  • Oberlin College (April, 1990): "Rabbinic Literary Culture and the Transformation of Halakhah"
  • Kenyon College: Holocaust Day Memorial Lecture of 1990 (April, 1990): "The Victim-Community in Myth and History"  
  • Portland Institute For Judaic Studies: Roscoe Nelson Lecture (Feb., 1990): "The Crisis of Jewish Tradition"
  • Reed College (March, 1989): "Tradition and Revelation in Early Rabbinic Judaism"



  • “The American Scholars Video Project" (June, 1999), one hour video interview by Alfred Benney, Fairfield University, funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation
  • "Religion and Science" (October, 1999), interview and call-in moderated by Steve Sher for KUOW (National Public Radio)
  • "Religion at the Millennium" (December, 1999), interviewed by Steve Sher for KUOW (National Public Radio)
  • Guest editorial, “Uncle Velvel’s Hammer and the World Jewish Conspiracy” KOL AM-1300 (November, 2002)
  • “Uncle Velvel’s Antisemitic Hammer ,” op/ed essay in The Jewish Daily Forward (Dec. 13, 2002)
  • Monthly Radio Column, “A View From the U: Comments of Prof. Martin Jaffee on Contemporary Jewish Life.” KOL AM-1300 (2003-2004)
  •  “What’s Wrong With Judaism?” Chabad Times (Spring, 2004)
  • Monthly Op/Ed Column, “A View From the U,” JTNews: The Voice of Jewish Washington  (2004-ongoing); past columns available on line at
  • “Viewpoint: The Neo-Con Con,”  op/ed essay in The Jerusalem Report (May, 2005)
  • “The Pope Rethinks the Afterlife,” op/ed essay in The Jewish Daily Forward (May 18, 2007)
  • Quoted in articles appearing in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Weekly, the Kansas City Star
Program Coordinator, Loryn Paxton
Thomson Hall, room 433
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(206) 543-4835

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(206) 543-6001

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