Sex, Magic, and Death in the Bible and its World
Lecturer: Dr. Sharon Keller
Sex, magic, and death are not the first words that come to mind when thinking about the Bible, yet each of these three sometimes provocative topics are an essential part of some of the Bible’s most familiar lessons and stories. We are accustomed to looking at the Bible either from the depths of Rabbinic thought or through the lens of modernity but rarely do we look at the Bible, its stories, laws, and customs with the light of its ancient contemporary environment. The Bible is an amalgam of texts, an anthology of sorts that reflects the ancient world and sex, magic, and death were as much a part of the ancient world as at least sex and death are a part of ours. Throughout this series, we will delve into the biblical text and the world in which it was created to see how knowledge of the ancient environment can enhance our understanding of this timeless and elemental text.
Dr. Sharon Keller set her sights on a PhD in Bible and Egyptology when she was in the 6th grade and steadfastly worked toward that goal earning her doctorate at NYU in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies in the area of Bible and the Ancient Near East. Sharon is currently on the Classics faculty at Hofstra University where she teaches courses as diverse as "Women in The Hebrew Bible," "Magic, Miracle, and Medicine in the Ancient World," and "Greco-Roman Comedy." She has been an Assistant Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at The Jewish Theological Seminary and at Hebrew Union College; she has also held appointments at NYU, and New York City's Hunter College - teaching biblical text courses as well as more general courses in biblical literature and history, as well as the courses in the art and archaeology of the lands of the Bible and the ancient Mediterranean world. She has written and edited numerous scholarly articles and academic books most of which relate to the interplay between biblical Israel and ancient Egypt. Her most popular book, Jews: A Treasury of Art and Literature was awarded the prestigious National Jewish Book Award. A native New Yorker, Sharon is known for the enthusiasm and humor that she brings to all of her talks that make otherwise esoteric subjects easily accessible.