About Gary Rendsburg

Gary Rendsburg

Gary A. Rendsburg is the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. His teaching and research focus on the literature, history, and archaeology of ancient Israel, but he also publishes on ancient Egypt, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. Professor Rendsburg is the author of numerous books, including How the Bible Is Written (Hendrickson, 2019), which has been nominated for a 2021 BAS Publication Award. A long-time contributor to Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, Rendsburg recently authored several chapters on ancient Israel’s earliest history for the fourth edition of Ancient Israel (BAS, 2021), edited by John Merrill.

Presenter at

February Bible & Archaeology Fest 2024
Where is Abraham’s Ur?

If you think you know the answer – the great city of Ur, in southern Iraq – you will need to think again.

There is not a single shred of evidence which places Abraham that far away from the land of Canaan. Instead we should seek his homeland in northern Mesopotamia, not far from Harran, another city associated with the patriarchs in Genesis.

Please join me for an archaeological tour of both the Near East and the biblical text, which when analyzed together allows one to correctly answer the question posed in the title of my talk.

Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2023
The Jews of Arabia: From the Great Revolt until the Rise of Islam

Five centuries before the rise of Islam, we have evidence for Jews in the Arabian peninsula, stretching from oasis sites in the north to Yemen in the south. In the latter, most remarkably, the king of Ḥimyar converted to Judaism and thus arose an ancient Jewish kingdom 2500 km (1600 miles) removed from the land of Israel.

BAS Scholar Series, August 26, 2021
The Book of Genesis: Tracing the Origins of the Ancestral Narratives

In the opening lecture of the BAS Scholar Series, Professor Gary A. Rendsburg of Rutgers University highlights key discussions from his chapter “The Ancestral Narratives,” which opens the fourth and latest edition of BAS’ highly acclaimed volume, Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple.

The stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with their primary wives Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, are among the best known stories in the Bible. But who wrote these compelling stories of ancient Israel’s early ancestors? What was their purpose? For whom were they written? And why are these stories filled with so much intrigue, everything from deception to fraternal strife? Why are the women always barren? And why do younger sons always supersede their older brothers?

Fortunately, as Professor Rendsburg will show, the author of Genesis left sufficient clues in the ancestral narratives that help answer many of these questions. Somewhat like a detective story, these literary clues allow us to produce a credible reconstruction of how, why, and when the Book of Genesis was written.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
The Bible: From Early Hebrew Writing to the Text in our Hands

How did the Bible reach us? When did writing begin in ancient Israel? What were the physical forms of this writing? On clay, stone, papyrus, parchment? What is the earliest Biblical text found in an archaeological excavation? Once the Biblical books were finalized and canonized, how were they transmitted? How do the Dead Sea Scrolls fit in? What happens during the 1500 years from the Qumran texts until the age of printing? In short, and to repeat the first question, how did the Bible reach us? During this illustrated lecture, we will attempt to answer all of these questions as we explore the many modes of writing, with special attention to the use of parchment scrolls in the ancient period, followed by the shift to the codex (the forerunner of the book) during the medieval period.