Jonathan Klawans

KLAWANS147 Bay State Road, Suite 409
Boston, MA, 02215
T: 617.353.4432; F: 617.358.5441
Spring 2019 Office Hours: Mon 12:15pm-1:15pm; Wed 1:15pm-2:15pm; Fri 10:15pm-11:00pm


Professor Klawans joined the Department of Religion and the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies in the fall of 1997. Professor Klawans is a specialist in the religion and religious literature of ancient Judaism. He teaches courses in Western Religion, the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic literature, and Theories and Methods for the Study of Religion. He has published articles in journals such as AJS Review, Dead Sea Discoveries, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Jewish Studies, New Testament Studies, Numen and Religious Studies Review. Professor Klawans’s first book, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism was published by Oxford University Press in 2000, and received awards as a best first book for that year from both the American Academy of Religion and the American Academy for Jewish Research. This book explores varied attitudes toward impurity and sin as expressed in the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic literature and the New Testament. Professor Klawans’s second book was published in 2005, also by Oxford University Press: Purity Sacrifice and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism. This book aims to correct a number of misconceptions about the practice of sacrifice in the ancient world, and the understanding of it in the modern world. It was selected as a finalist in the Jewish Thought category for a 2005-2006 Koret International Jewish Book Award.

Professor Klawans’s third book is entitled Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism (Oxford University Press 2012). This book re-examines the theology of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, as well as the theological views Josephus attributes to the major Jewish groups of his day: the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. The book argues that matters of belief played an important role, alongside Jewish law, in ancient Jewish sectarian disputes.

Professor Klawans was on Sabbatical for the academic year 2017-2018, working on a project entitled, Heresies, Forgeries, and Novelties: Condemning, Denying, and Asserting Innovation in Ancient Judaism. Recently accepted for publication by Oxford University Press, this book argues (1) that Christian heresiology, with its demonization of novelty, has roots in Judaism; (2) that our evidence is muddied by Jewish and Christian forgeries—often in the form of pseudepigraphs (works falsely titled)—which serve to deny or conceal innovations that would otherwise be condemned as novel; (3) that the Christian claim of novelty, while having roots in sectarian Judaism, goes further than its Jewish precedents by embracing the new and condemning the old in unprecedented ways. Hopefully, this book will appear in print in 2019.

Jonathan Klawan’s Home Page

Current CV


JosephusJosephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism
By Jonathan Klawans
Oxford University Press
October 12, 2012
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Purity, Sacrafice and the Temple Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism
By Jonathan Klawans
Oxford University Press
May 13, 2009
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Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism
By Jonathan Klawans
Oxford University Press
Oct 2000
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“An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Klawans – Teacher, Scholar and Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University”
New Vilna Review  (March 22, 2011)


“Josephus And The Theologies Of Ancient Judaism” A Discussion with Dr. Jonathan Klawans, Author, JTS, March 19, 2013, 7:30 PM


Listen to Prof. Klawans on Public Radio’s “This American Life”


  • CAS RN 104 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • CAS RN 200 Theory of Religion
  • CAS RN 201 The Hebrew Bible
  • CAS RN 216 Judaism
  • CAS RN 324/624 Rabbinic Literature
  • CAS RN 334/634 The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CAS RN 335/635 Judaism in the First Century
  • CAS RN 423/723 Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions: West