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Indiana University Bloomington
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Nathan Mastnjak

Visiting Lecturer, Borns Jewish Studies Program

As an educator and scholar, my work focuses on understanding the literary nature of the Hebrew Bible in its ancient context. In pursuing this goal, I integrate diverse approaches from the humanities and religious studies in order to uncover central ideas embedded in ancient texts.

My first book, Deuteronomy and the Emergence of Textual Authority in Jeremiah, traced a shift in the status of Deuteronomy. While early layers of Jeremiah treated it as merely a prestigious literary work, the later layers treat it as a divinely written authority. This means that, ironically, these later layers were forced to covertly transform Deuteronomy in order to make room for their own innovations. The role played by Deuteronomy for the authors of Jeremiah thus shows an early movement towards the text-centered religion—along with its distinctive forms of creativity—characteristic of later forms of Judaism.

My current book project asks a question with broad significance for biblical studies: were the “books” of the Bible really books? Taking the textual history of Jeremiah as a starting point, this study will suggest that a number of biblical compositions now referred to as books began their textual lives as collections of short scrolls. This study calls into question certain verities of biblical scholarship—notably its engrained idea of the original text—and provides new ways of imagining how biblical literature was composed and read.

Education

  • Ph.D. Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, University of Chicago, 2015

Research Interests

  • Ancient Middle Eastern context of the Hebrew Bible
  • Prophetic literature
  • Intertextuality
  • Trauma Studies
  • Book History

Courses

  • Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
  • Prophecy in Ancient Israel
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
  • Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
  • Aramaic Reading Group

Publications