I study the Jewish tradition, religious thought, and theories and methods in the study of religion. My research focuses on the modern period, with particular areas of interest including Jewish thought, Jewish-Christian relations, philosophy of religion, religion and politics, hermeneutics, and religious ethics. I have recently published a book on Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), the Enlightenment philosopher generally seen as the founder of modern Jewish thought. Reading Mendelssohn’s well-known German works alongside his neglected Hebrew writings, I call for a far-reaching reassessment of this influential figure, recovering previously unrecognized arguments by Mendelssohn about philosophy, citizenship, and religious authority, and showing that his thought has much to offer broader conversations about modernity and religion. I have also published some of the first translations of Mendelssohn’s Hebrew writings (a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award).
I am currently working on a second book, Nachman Krochmal and the Struggle for Modern Jewish Politics, on Nachman Krochmal (1785-1840), one of modernity’s first Eastern Europe’s Jewish philosophers. A businessman, teacher, and communal leader born in what is now Ukraine, he is often described as central to Judaism’s encounter with developments such as historicism, biblical criticism, and German Idealism. However, his work is rarely subject to scrutiny, especially in North America, and his unfinished Hebrew magnum opus—published posthumously as The Guide of the Perplexed of the Time—remains largely unavailable in English. My book seeks to recover Krochmal’s thought for contemporary readers, proposing a far-reaching reinterpretation of his philosophical goals and drawing on his work to rethink the emergence and contours of Jewish modernity.
You can watch an interview with me about my work—and the public relevance of Jewish philosophy more broadly—here.
Moses Mendelssohn’s Living Script: Philosophy, Practice, History, Judaism (Indiana University Press, 2017; Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award, University of Colorado Boulder)
Peer-Reviewed Articles and Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters
“Virtue Between Hebrew and German: The Case of Moses Mendelssohn” (with Grit Schorch), in Jewish Virtue Ethics, eds. Geoffrey Claussen, Alex Green, and Alan Mittleman (SUNY Press, forthcoming
“Poetry, Music, and the Limits of Harmony: Mendelssohn’s Aesthetic Critique of Christianity,” in Sara Levy’s World: Bach, Gender, and Judaism in Enlightenment Berlin, eds. Nancy Sinkoff and Rebecca Cypess, Eastman Studies in Music (University of Rochester Press, 2018), 122-146
“Worlds to Come Between East and West: Immortality and the Rise of Modern Jewish Thought,” in Olam Ha-zeh v’Olam Ha-ba: This World and the World to Come in Jewish Belief and Practice, ed. Leonard Greenspoon, Studies in Jewish Civilization (Purdue University Press, 2017), 171-195
“Is God Eternal? Revisiting Mendelssohn and Rosenzweig on Reason, Revelation, and the Name of God,” Modern Theology 33.1 (2017): 69-91
“Law, Ethics, and the Needs of History: Mendelssohn, Krochmal, and Moral Philosophy,” Journal of Religious Ethics 44.2 (2016): 352-377
“Civic Freedom out of the Sources of Judaism: Mendelssohn, Maimonides, and Law’s Promise,” Journal of Jewish Ethics 2.1 (2016): 86-111
“Spinoza, Maimonides and the Politics of Prophecy,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 21.1 (2014): 67-98
“‘Finden Sie mich sehr amerikanisch?’: Jacob Taubes, Hermann Cohen, and the Return to German-Jewish Liberalism,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 57 (2012): 187-210
“Moses Mendelssohn,” Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies, ed. David Biale (Oxford University Press, 2012)
Edited Book Chapters
“Modes of Interpretation in Jewish Ethics,” in Encyclopedia of Religious Ethics, eds. William Schweiker, Maria Antonaccio, Elizabeth Bucar, and David Clairmont (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming)
“The Promise and Perils of Perplexity: Jewish Philosophy and Public Culture, Yesterday and Today,” in The Future of Jewish Philosophy, volume 21 of The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, eds. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron Hughes (Brill, 2018), 79-97
“Anarchy and Law: Mendelssohn on Philosophy and Judaism,” in Moses Mendelssohn: Enlightenment, Religion, Politics, Nationalism, eds. Charles Manekin and Michah Gottlieb, Studies and Texts in Jewish History and Culture (University Press of Maryland, 2015), 237-273
Selections from the writings of Samuel David Luzzatto, Mordecai Gumpel Schnaber-Levison, Meir Halevi Letteris, Salomon Rubin, Abraham Isaac Kook, and Micha Joseph Berdichevsky (Hebrew), in Spinoza’s Challenge to Jewish Thought: Writings on His Life, Philosophy, and Legacy, ed. Daniel Schwartz, Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought (Brandeis University Press, 2019)
Selections from the writings of Moses Mendelssohn (Hebrew), in Moses Mendelssohn: Writings on Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible, ed. Michah Gottlieb, trans. Allan Arkush, Curtis Bowman, and Elias Sacks, Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought (Brandeis University Press, 2011; Finalist for 2011 National Jewish Book Award)
Review of Edward Breuer and David Sorkin, eds., Moses Mendelssohn’s Hebrew Writings, in Reading Religion (2018)
“Saving the World,” Jewish Review of Books 7.1 (2016): 23-25
“Expanding the Jewish Studies Classroom: Citizenship, Vulnerability, and the Trinity,” Association for Jewish Studies Conference Papers on Pedagogy
“Moses Mendelssohn’s Hebrew Politics,” Oxford University Press Blog