About Amy-Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine Dr. has recently been named University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. “University Professor” is among the highest honors offered to faculty at Vanderbilt, and A.J. Levine is the only female faculty member in the humanities to have received it so far. She also retains her previous titles, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies. Holding a B.A. from Smith College, M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and honorary doctorates from the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest and the University of South Carolina-Upstate, Professor Levine has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has held office in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association (she is presently the New Testament book review editor for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly), and the Association for Jewish Studies. Her most recent books include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperOne) The Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton) as well as the fourteen-volume series Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings (Continuum). She has recorded “Introduction to the Old Testament,” “Great Figures of the Old Testament,” and “Great Figures of the New Testament” for the Teaching Company. A self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Professor Levine combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating anti-Jewish, sexist and homophobic theologies.

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017 (Q&A panelist)

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son, and Lost Meaning: Jesus’ Parables in Jewish Context

Jesus the Jew told the Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son(s) to fellow Jews; Luke the Evangelist adapted these accounts for (gentile) followers of Jesus. What might the parables have suggested to Jesus’ original audience? How has Luke added to their meaning? How have anti-Jewish interpretations developed? How might the original provocation of the parables still speak to readers today?

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
Ancient History vs. Modern Stereotype: Reconsidering Jesus in his Jewish Context

What are the major incorrect descriptions of early Judaism that appear in Christian Biblical interpretation, why did they develop, and how does our better knowledge of Jewish history correct them? What are the major incorrect descriptions of Christian history that surface in modern Jewish contexts, why did they develop, and how does our better knowledge, again of Jewish history, correct them?

Seminar at Sea, January 23 – 30, 2011
Jesus, Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations: Ancient Misunderstandings and Modern Consequences

Women in an Ancient Jewish World: Separating Fact from Fiction
In looking to Jesus as a champion of women’s rights, Christian commentators occasionally portray his Jewish context and the status of women in his world as comparable to – if not worse than—conditions under the Taliban. How did this incorrect view of women’s roles in early Judaism develop and what were Jewish women’s lives really like at the time of Jesus? What were the roles of the women who followed Jesus?

Wrathful God vs. Loving God: A Theological Puzzle Resolved
The “Old Testament Deity of Wrath” versus the “New Testament Deity of Love” is a false, but popular, theological claim. How did it develop, how might it be corrected, and how might a better understanding of first-century Jewish theology improve Jewish-Christian relations today?

Jesus, Torah Law and Entry into Heaven: Misconceptions Laid to Rest
In many Christian settings, the Law (Torah) is seen as a burden, and Judaism is seen as a religion that states one must follow the Law in order to earn one’s way into heaven. Jesus is then seen as coming to end the burden of the Law. Both views are false. How does a more accurate understanding of first-century Jewish practices and beliefs both correct unfortunate stereotypes and serve to inspire both Jews and Christians today?

Christianity’s Take on the Jerusalem Temple: What History Really Tells Us
Recent studies of Jesus depict the Jerusalem Temple as the site of all evil: Over-taxation, Roman collaboration, elitism, Pharisaic legalism and peasant exploitation. How and why is the Temple used as a negative symbol of Jewish tradition in Christianity, and what corrections to this picture does history offer?

Jews and Gentiles in Antiquity: How Did They Get Along?
The view of Jesus and the Church as universalistic, multicultural and open to all versus that of the synagogue as xenophobic, ethnocentric and restricted remains a popular – and false – stereotype. What were the various early Jewish views of the Gentiles, what was Jesus’ relationship to Gentiles, and how do these views relate to the questions of “chosen people” and “salvation”?

Who Killed Jesus? Re-examining the Evidence
Jesus of Nazareth, convicted of sedition, died on a Roman cross. How then did the Jews, rather than the Romans, become known as “Christ-killers”? What accounted for the increasing vilification of the Jews in the New Testament, and what can be done to insure that these stories do not promote anti-Judaism today?

Selected Articles by Amy-Jill Levine