About Marc Brettler

Marc Brettler

Marc Brettler, a member of the American Academy for Jewish Research, is the Bernice and Morton Lerner Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. The Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, he has also taught at Yale University, Brown University, Wellesley College and Middlebury College. He has also taught in various adult Jewish education settings, including the Wexner Heritage Program, the innovative Me’ah program in Boston, and has served as scholar-in-residence for the Foundation for Jewish Studies in Washington DC. He is actively involved in many aspects of Jewish communal life, and has served on the board of Boston’s Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center and Gann Academy—the New Jewish High School. A graduate of Brandeis University, he has published and lectured widely on metaphor and the Bible, the nature of biblical historical texts, and gender issues and the Bible. He is co-editor of the Jewish Study Bible, first published by Oxford University Press in 2004. That book has won a National Jewish Book Award, and was called “a masterpiece” in a review in the Times Literary Supplement. A second, expanded and revised edition was published in 2014. His How to Read the Bible (Jewish Publication Society), which has been called “an eye-opening journey through a familiar text, a fresh look at an old story,” was the award winner in the Judaism category of the Best Books 2006 Book Awards. A slightly revised version was published in paperback by Oxford University Press as How to Read the Jewish Bible. He is co-editor with Amy-Jill Levine of The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford University Press), the first book of its type, which was written up in the N.Y. Times, and has just been republished in an expanded, highly revised version. He is co-author of The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously (Oxford University Press), recently republished as a paperback. Other books are Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Israeli Hebrew, published by Yale University Press, and The Creation of History in Ancient Israel and Reading the Book of Judges, published by Routledge. He served as an associate editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, and has contributed to all ten volumes of My People's Prayer Book, a commentary on the siddur, which won a National Jewish Book Award in 2008. He also wrote the section on “Our Biblical Heritage” in My People’s Passover Haggadah. He contributed the essay “Introduction to the Torah” in Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel, and Quran, ed. Brian Arthur Brown, which won an Independent Publisher award for best book in religion in 2014. His most recent book, with Amy-Jill Levine, is The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently, just published by Harpers available in October on Audible and Amazon. He has written for The Forward and The Jerusalem Report, has appeared on the Television series “Mysteries of the Bible,” was heard on the National Public Radio show “All Things Considered,” and was interviewed on “Fresh Air” by Terry Gross. While serving as a senior research fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, he began writing a commentary on Psalms 91-119 for the Jewish Publication Society Bible Commentary. He is committed to applying innovative methods to classroom teaching, including teaching via the internet, and is the recipient of the Michael A. Walzer Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Keter Torah Award from the Boston Bureau of Jewish Education. He has spent recent sabbaticals studying, teaching, and lecturing in Israel, China, and Japan. In summer 2015, after retiring from Brandeis University, he assumed the Bernice and Morton Lerner Professorship in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. In 2017, he was one of 100 scholars and leaders asked to participate in the “American Values Religious Voices” project.

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIV, October 16 – 17, 2021
Revisiting The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Prose and Poetry become Prophecy with Amy-Jill Levine

The Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, and rabbinic literature all take passages from Israel’s Scriptures (Tanakh/the Old Testament) and repurpose them: narrative and poetic texts about the past and present become prophecy, and messages for an original audience are replaced by interpretations that fit the circumstances of later writers. Examples of such repurposing, often in the context of Jewish-Christian polemic, include how Psalm 22 is read in relation to Jesus’ death and to Queen Esther’s courage, how references to Melchizedek in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 are read to support the role of Jesus as Great High Priest and to show how Melchizedek lost his priesthood, and how the Book of Jonah becomes both a prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection and a message of repentance heard to this day in the Jewish tradition’s reading of Jonah on Yom Kippur.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, October 24 – 25, 2020
The Bible With and Without Jesus with Amy-Jill Levine

Comparing Jewish and Christian interpretations of such famous passages as the creation stories, the book Jonah, Isaiah’s comments about a special child and a suffering servant, and Psalm 22, and seeing how all these texts made sense in their own historical context, we reveal what we can learn from the original contexts, why Jews and Christians interpret the same texts differently, and how in reading together we both learn from each other and see more clearly the beauty and power of Scripture.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Are All Psalms Prayers?

Psalms and prayer are usually thought of in vertical terms: people calling to God and above, with the hope that God hears and heeds them. But prayer was also, in Biblical times, fundamentally a community ritual. This talk will thus examine how psalms from the Second Temple served to create communities and sub-communities. It will use various psalms illustrate the adage “Those Who Pray Together Stay Together.”