Associate Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies; Associate Director of Graduate Studies, classical and medieval Jewish studies; comparative philosophy and religious thought

Associate Professor in Religion, Ph.D, Harvard University (1995); MTS, Harvard Divinity School (1982); BA, Oberlin College (1979). Previously held Anna Smith Fine Chair in Judaic Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Rice University (1997-99); Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica, Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University (1999-2000); Fellow at Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, University of Maryland at College Park, Lecturer in University Honors Program (1996-97). Joined the Department of Religion in the fall of 2000.

Professor Lobel teaches comparative religious thought. Her teaching emphasizes interactions between philosophy and religion, close textual reading, and religious experience. She is also fascinated by the way religious traditions continually renew themselves through the ongoing process of interpretation. Her classes thus feature interactive study, highlighting creative dialogue between varied modes of reading and interpreting texts.

Professor Lobel’s first two books explore the intertwined nexus of Jewish and Islamic thought in two medieval Judeo-Arabic classics—Judah Halevi’s philosophical dialogue The Kuzari and Bahya Ibn Paquda’s manual of Jewish pietism, Duties of the Heart––and the impact of Sufi mysticism on Jewish philosophy. In several articles, she has also investigated the work of the medieval Judeo-Arabic thinker Moses Maimonides. “Silence is Praise to You” addresses the connection between silence, awe, and religious experience. “Being and the Good: Maimonides on Ontological Beauty” explores Maimonides’ aesthetic appreciation of Being as the absolute good and the source of all beauty and value.

Her third book, The Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience (Columbia University Press, 2011) explores concepts of divinity and goodness across philosophical and religious traditions, East and West. Her fourth book, Philosophies of Happiness: A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life (Columbia University Press, 2017) continues the theme of Eastern and Western conceptions of the flourishing life, in sources such as Aristotle, Maimonides, the Confucian Analects, the Bhagavad Gītā, and the Sufi poem Conference of the Birds, in dialogue with contemporary studies of mindfulness and happiness.

Her most recent book, Moses and Abraham Maimonides: Encountering the Divine (Academic Studies Press, 2021), returns to the Judeo-Arabic tradition. The book demonstrates the way Abraham Maimonides’ Torah commentary engages the philosophical interpretations of his father Moses Maimonides, Biblical exegetes such as Saadya, and Sufi-flavored illuminative mysticism. In addition, the book explores the intersecting approaches of Moses and Abraham Maimonides to the divine name Ehyeh asher Ehyeh (I am that I am/I will be who I will be) and its relationship to the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable four-letter name of God.

She is currently completing a study on conceptions of faith and trust in Judeo-Arabic thought. Her next project turns to conceptions of the heart-mind in Biblical and other traditions.

Current CV


Phil of Happiness Lobel
Philosophies of Happiness: A Comparative Introduction to the Flourishing Life
By Diana Lobel
Columbia University Press
November 2017
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Supplementary Notes and Appendixes are available at:


The Quest for God and the GoodThe Quest for God and the Good: World Philosophy as a Living Experience
By Diana Lobel
Columbia University Press
July 2011
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A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue: Philosophy and Mysticism in Bahya Ibn Paquda’s Duties of the Heart.
By Diana Lobel
University of Pennsylvania Press
November 1, 2006
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Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious Experience in Judah Ha-Levi’s Kuzari
By Diana Lobel
State University of New York Press
June 1, 2000
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  • CAS RN 206 Scriptures in World Religions
  • CAS RN 245 Religious Thought: the Quest for God and the Good/PH 245 Philosophy and Religion
  • CAS RN 338/638 Mysticism and Philosophy: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
  • CAS RN 323/623 Classical Jewish Thought
  • CAS RN 424/724  Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions-East
  • CAS RN 452/752 Topics in Religious Thought: Religious Thought, East and West