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Indiana University Bloomington
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J. Albert Harrill

Professor of Religious Studies
Adjunct Professor of History, Classical Studies, and Jewish Studies

As a biblical scholar, I work on the period of early Judaism from which Christianity arose. I approach the Jewish and Christian Bibles less from the idea of canon and more from the wider historical perspective of ancient culture. Unlike other scholars who separate antiquity into the "biblical world" and "ancient (pagan) world" to see how they are alike and how they differ, I study the Bible as fully a part of ancient Mediterranean culture.

My new book, Slaves in the New Testament: Literary, Social, and Moral Dimensions (Fortress Press, 2006), uses Jewish sources, such as Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus, as a manifestation of Roman culture, seeing the integration of Jewish material as a necessary part of good scholarship on ancient history. I argue that slaves in the New Testament are literary products reflecting Roman anxiety about living with people in bondage. The book also explores how the moral debate over slavery in America affected biblical interpretation in this country. A previous work, The Manumission of Slaves in Early Christianity. (Mohr Siebeck, 1995; reprint 1998), examines the specific puzzle of 1 Corinthians 7:21 and a letter of Ignatius of Antioch in the interpretation of slavery in the New Testament.

I teach The Bible and Slavery, Introduction to the New Testament, Judaism in the Making, Jesus and the Gospels, Paul and His Interpreters in Early Christianity, and Ancient Mediterranean Religions, all of which incorporate important material about ancient Judaism. For more information please check out my personal homepage.