(Jacques D. Berlinerblau)
Education: New York University, B.A., 1986, M.A. (Hebrew and Judaic studies), 1988, Ph.D. (ancient Near Eastern languages and literatures), 1991; New School for Social Research, M.A. (sociology), 1993, Ph.D. (sociology), 1999.
Office—Program for Jewish Civilization, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 37th & O Sts. N.W., Washington, DC 20057; Hofstra University, 322 Calkins Hall, Hempstead, NY 11549-1000. E-mail— [email protected]; [email protected].
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, associate professor of comparative literature and languages, 1997-2005, director of Hebrew and Judaic studies, 1997—, associate professor of religious studies, 2005—; Drew University, Madison, NJ, affiliated faculty in the 1) religion and society and 2) official/ popular religion in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament graduate programs, 1998-2002; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, NY, affiliated faculty in the graduate program in Biblical studies, 2004; Georgetown University, Washington, DC, visiting professor of Jewish civilization, 2005-07.
Society of Biblical Literature, Association of Jewish Studies, American Academy of Religion, American Sociological Association.
Stessin Prize for best publication by a faculty member, Hofstra University, 1999.
The Vow and the "Popular Religious Groups" of Ancient Israel: A Philological and Sociological Inquiry, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 1996.
Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1999.
The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to boks, including Concepts of Class in Ancient Israel, edited by M. Sneed, Scholars Press (Atlanta, GA), 1999; Ki Baruch Hu: Essays Submitted to Baruch Levine in Honor of His 65th Birthday, edited by R. Chazan, W.W. Hallo, and L.H. Schiffman, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 1999; The Twenty-third An-nual Rabbi Louis Feinberg Memorial Lecture in Judaic Studies, University of Cincinnati Press (Cincinnati, OH), 2000; Tracking the Tribes of Yahweh: On the Trail of a Classic, edited by R. Boer, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 2002; Teaching Durkheim, edited by T. Godlove, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005. Contributor to periodicals, including Biblica, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Biblical Interpretation, and Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and to the Encylopedia Judaica.
Jacques Berlinerblau is a scholar of many subjects, including Jewish history and religion, ancient languages, the Bible, and sociology. His first book, The Vow and the "Popular Religious Groups" of Ancient Israel: A Philological and Sociological Inquiry, combines all of these interests in a study of the sociological role that making vows played in ancient Israel. Berlinerblau shows that the making of vows by those outside the official, orthodox religious hierarchy was seen as a threat to that group's authority, but that the religious leaders were unable to stop common people from making vows. "Considering that Berlinerblau's treatment of the vow is largely theoretical, he is to be complimented on the lucidity and penetration of his study," Jacob Milgrom wrote in the Journal of the American Oriental Society.
Berlinerblau tackles a very different topic in his second book, Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals. The book examines the firestorm that erupted on the 1987 publication of Martin Bernal's Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. In that book Bernal lays out in detail the evidence that the ancient Greeks were highly influenced by Egyptian culture—the controversial argument that is central to the Afrocentric history movement—and that the classicists of the nineteenth century ignored this evidence because of their racism. Berlinerblau examines academia's reaction to Black Athena from a sociological perspective, looking at Bernal's position as an academic heretic and the rhetorical strategies used to combat his assertions. Heresy in the University "is a fascinating exploration of the use and abuse of history and identity for contemporary struggles, within and without the university," Thomas J. Kitson wrote in Research in African Literatures, that is "well-written in clear prose [and] nearly free of any jargon that would impede nonacademic readers."
In The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, Berlinerblau argues for the participation of atheistic scholars in Biblical studies. He explains that nonreligious people need to comprehend religious texts in order to understand the arguments of terrorists and of the many American voters who base their political decisions on their faith. He asserts that the nonreligious will be able to debate the religious more effectively once they understand that religious texts can be interpreted in many ways. Berlinerblau also shows that the field of religious studies would benefit from the perspectives of the nonreligious. Scholars who are affiliated with an organized religion have a conflict of interest that may keep them from being completely impartial, he argues, and atheistic scholars could help to counterbalance those biases. "Not everyone will agree with Berlinerblau's argument," Christopher Brennan concluded in Library Journal, "but his work represents a clear introduction to the problems of biblical interpretation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Antiquity, December, 1999, N. James, review of Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals, p. 927.
Journal of the American Oriental Society, October, 1998, Jacob Milgrom, review of The Vow and the "Popular Religious Groups" of Ancient Israel: A Philological and Sociological Inquiry, p. 592.
Library Journal, November 15, 2005, Christopher Brennan, review of The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, p. 72.
Reference and Research Book News, November, 2005, review of The Secular Bible.
Research in African Literature, spring, 2001, Thomas J. Kitson, review of Heresy in the University, p. 162.
Georgetown University Online,http://explore.georgetown.edu/ (June 30, 2006), "Jacques Berlinerblau."