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Indiana University Bloomington
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Jason Mokhtarian

Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies

I am a historian of Ancient Judaism with a particular interest in the Jews of Babylonia in the Second Temple and Rabbinic periods. I received a M.A. in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a M.A. in Ancient Iranian Studies and Ph.D. in Early and Late Antique Judaism from UCLA’s department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. My current areas of research include the Talmud in its Iranian context, Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, the Jewish Aramaic bowls from Sasanian Mesopotamia, and the political and cultural history of the Jews of Persia. My forthcoming book, entitled Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran (University of California Press), is a study of the Babylonian Talmud’s portrayals of Persians which brings into mutual fruition the academic disciplines of Talmudic Studies and Ancient Iranology. I have published or forthcoming articles in the Jewish Studies Quarterly, Iranian Studies, and Harvard Theological Review, as well as several edited volumes, and am currently working on a monograph on the political tradition in ancient Judaism. At Indiana, I teach courses in Jewish and Religious Studies on topics such as Rabbinic Literature, Late Antique Religions, Zoroastrianism, Jewish Magic, and the Jewish sacred canon.

Current C.V.

Rabbis, Socrcerers, Kings, and Priests (University of California Press, July 2015)


  • Ph.D. at University of California, Los Angeles, 2011

Research Interests

  • Ancient Judaism
  • Rabbinics
  • Jews of Ancient Persia
  • Talmud in its Iranian Context
  • Ancient Iranian Studies


Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran (University of California Press, July 2015).

“Excommunication in Jewish Babylonia: Comparing Bavli Mo‘ed Qaṭan 14b-17b and the Aramaic Bowl Spells in a Sasanian Context,” Harvard Theological Review (forthcoming).

“The Boundaries of an Infidel in Zoroastrianism: A Middle Persian Term of Otherness for Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” Iranian Studies (forthcoming, 2014).

“Authority and Empire in Sasanian Babylonia: The Rabbis and King Shapur in Dialogue,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 19, No. 2 (2012): 148-180.  

“Rabbinic Depictions of the Achaemenid King Cyrus the Great: The Babylonian Esther Midrash (bMeg. 10b-17a) in its Iranian Context,” in The Talmud in its Iranian Context, eds. Carol Bakhos and M. Rahim Shayegan (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 112-139.

Courses Currently Taught

  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Introduction to Jewish History: From the Bible to the Spanish Expulsion
  • Torah, Temple, and God in Ancient Judaism
  • Rabbinic Judaism: Literature and Beliefs


  • Foundation for Jewish Culture, Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Jewish Studies, 2010-2011
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, International Dissertation Scholarship for Jewish Studies, 2010-2011
  • UCLA Graduate Division, Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Lady Davis Graduate Research Fellowship, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005-06