To say that the Bible is the most influential book in history, while true, would be too obvious. What is less obvious, though equally true, is that this collection of often contradictory texts provides major insights in understanding such human phenomena as violence, trauma, imperialism, social collapse, and social repair.
I am a scholar of religion, a biblical scholar, and a social and cultural historian of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and the Middle East in antiquity. In the past few years, I have published a book and various articles on violence that deal with not just ancient violence but violence in the contemporary world. Previously, I published a book on early Jewish marriage customs and articles on Israelite religion. My classes emphasize studying texts and history with an eye to ethics, in joining together critical, analytical thought with empathy because both critical thought and empathy are necessary for leading an ethical, impactful life, the type of life where we don't just live in the world but shape it for the better.