joel kaminsky WELCOME to Professor Joel S. Kaminsky's homepage

Wright Hall 113, Smith College, Northampton MA 01060; 413-585-3608;

Professor Joel Kaminsky's complete vita (PDF)

I. Scholarly articles


II. Books

The Abingdon Introduction to the Bible, co-authored with Joel N. Lohr and Mark Reasoner, was published in March 2014:


"For those searching for a textbook that introduces students to a thick reading of biblical texts within Jewish and Christian contexts, this is the book we have been waiting for. Lucid and lively, it demonstrates how close attention to the ethics of interpretation uncovers the Bible’s religious, social, and historical influence."
--Samuel E. Balentine, Professor of Old Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary

"Kaminsky, Lohr, and Reasoner have produced a truly distinctive introduction to the Bible since they approach the text from different perspectives (Jewish as well as Catholic and Protestant Christianity). Their combined insight into Scripture (Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and apocrypha) sheds light for all faith communities as they seek to understand the Scripture that animate them. I enthusiastically recommend this Introduction for all serious students of the Bible."
--Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“What a refreshing Introduction! While providing basic information, it departs strikingly from conventional formats to include select Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Bible, from the ancient to the contemporary world. By highlighting inner biblical links and divergences, it remains faithful to the complexities and wealth of scripture. The writing is clear and concise; the perspectives are caring and challenging. Beginners and other learners will profit by reading this splendid book.” 
--Phyllis Trible, Baldwin Professor Emerita of Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, New York

Information on how to order The Abingdon Introduction to the Bible can be found at Abingdon Press.

In 2013, I co-edited and contributed an essay to The Call of Abraham: Essays on the Election of Israel in Honor of Jon D. Levenson:

"The scholarship in The Call of Abraham is magnificent. The essays are uniformly of a very high quality. Depending on the essay, the fields that benefit from the scholarship of this volume include Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, intertestamental/Second Temple Judaism, Jewish theology, New Testament, and Christian theology. This work is of profound significance for scholars in all these areas." —Matthew Levering, University of Dayton 

“This volume is an excellent contribution to a crucial question of both ancient and contemporary importance. The essayists give a whole range of ways to consider Jewish election both in its historical and conceptual incarnations. The complexity and richness that emerges from this range is a major strength of the collection and one that is without parallel.” —C. Kavin Rowe, Duke Divinity School 

"The Call of Abraham is an extraordinary collection that will interest several groups: not only scholars of scripture, ancient Judaism and Christianity, and theology, but any Jews or Christians who wonder how their own tradition has viewed the idea of the chosen people, how those views developed, and how they relate to those of the other community that calls the Hebrew Bible its scripture. The book contains essays of real depth and learning, yet they are accessible to readers outside the academy. They are an appropriate tribute to Jon Levenson, whose depth, clarity, and theological honesty they imitate." —Benjamin D. Sommer, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Information on how to order The Call of Abraham can be found at the University of Notre Dame Press.

My co-authored Torah book was published in 2011:

Advance praise for The Torah: A Beginner's Guide:

“Lohr and Kaminsky have written an accessible, clear, and balanced introduction to the significance and meaning of the Torah. The Torah has been compared to a light and their book succeeds in enlightening readers about a sacred text shared by Jews and Christians. I highly recommend ‘The Torah: a Beginners Guide’.  It provides an invaluable introduction to a key text in the study of religion.”
Edward Kessler MBE - Founding Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, University of Cambridge and author of What Do Jews Believe?

“Lohr and Kaminsky have written an introduction to the Torah that is distinctive in several respects. It highlights the fact that the Torah is a religious text, and illustrates the ways in which it has been used in Jewish and Christian tradition, with a nod also to Islam. It also underlines that the interpretation of any text is influenced to a great degree by the assumptions with which we approach it. This is a fine example of an ecumenical scholarship, designed to promote mutual understanding between Jews and Christians. It is written in an accessible style, which should make it ideal for undergraduates and lay study groups.”
John J. Collins - Holmes Professor of Old Testament at Yale University and author of Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

“The Torah: A Beginners Guide by Joel Lohr, a committed Christian, and Joel Kaminsky, a committed Jew, is an excellent introduction to the Pentateuch. While appreciative of modern secular biblical scholarship, the main strength of the book is that it demonstrates how Christians and Jews can read Scripture together almost as fruitfully as they can read it within their respective faith communities.”
David Novak - J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

“Lohr and Kaminsky have produced a well-conceived and well-written “Beginner’s Guide” to the Torah. In a unique and fascinating venture, they interweave Jewish and Christian perspectives on various themes and texts in a clear and careful fashion. A balanced assessment of issues in current pentateuchal scholarship pervades the volume and will no doubt launch further reflection on the part of both lay readers and biblical scholars.”
Terence E. Fretheim - Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and author of The Pentateuch

 “I am glad to welcome and commend this study guide for beginners. The authors have been able to accomplish two special things by their interpretive agility. On the one hand, they are honest critically about the Torah while at the same time affirming its theological authority for communities of faith. On the other hand, they have been able to hold together in tension the on-going interpretive practices of Judaism and Christianity, thus showing how the Torah continues to be a generative force for both interpretive communities. The book will be a useful pedagogical resource.”
Walter Brueggemann - William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and author of The Prophetic Imagination

 “This serene exposition of the first five books of Jewish and Christian Scripture is most welcome.”
Matthew Levering – Professor of Theology at Dayton University and author of Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Life of Wisdom

“Clear yet not simplistic, sparing of detail yet opening a window into the vast world of Torah study for both Jews and Christians – this makes for a very welcome and highly useful book.”
Ellen F. Davis – Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University Divinity School, North Carolina and author of Getting Involved with God

I co-edited and contributed an essay to an anthology in honor of Prof. John J. Collins that was published in 2011:


The cover of my 2007 book, with a brief abstract and some endorsements:

That the People of Israel are especially chosen by God is an idea affirmed by both early Christians and the ancient rabbis. However, the notion that God would favor one person or group over another tends to be viewed as highly problematic in today's democratic and pluralistic society. Thus, the Bible's affirmation of Israel's divine election is often ignored or even repudiated by contemporary Christians and Jews. In his new book, Joel S. Kaminsky provides a clear and nuanced understanding of what the Bible really says about God's choosing. Beginning with the stories of family rivalry in Genesis (Cain and Abel; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers), Kaminsky shows how God chooses, how humans participate, and what we know from the Bible about God's intentions. The book maps out the Hebrew Bible's theology of election by asking about the fates of those whom God chooses to favor, those whom God rejects, and those who are neither favored nor rejected. A close reading of the biblical text uncovers that the idea of election is at the heart of the Hebrew Bible and reveals profound insights about God, Israel, and God's larger plan for the world. Kaminsky goes on to show how both the New Testament authors and the classical rabbis adopted the Hebrew Bible's view of divine election in unique but related ways. Understanding how Jews and Christians define themselves as God's special people in turn opens up new avenues of Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Advance praise for Yet I Loved Jacob

"In recent decades the various advances reached in the dialogue between Jews and Christians have often been compromised by the inability to appreciate the biblical grounding of the doctrine of election. This is due, in part, to the lack of interest modern biblical scholars have shown for the subject. This learned, ground-breaking book fills this urgent lacuna and as a result is certain to become an indispensable aide for those Jewish and Christian thinkers committed to interreligious dialogue." ------Gary A. Anderson, Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame

"This marvelous book is the best presentation there is of the most misunderstood—and most maligned—teaching in the Hebrew Bible, the chosenness of Israel. It is also one of the best works of biblical theology to come out in recent years. In clear prose, unencumbered by technical jargon yet informed by wide learning and careful thinking, Professor Kaminsky analyzes this exceedingly subtle and easily misunderstood topic and uncovers major aspects of the Hebrew Bible that will surprise and enrich scholars and laypersons, Jewish, Christian, and secular alike. I recommend it highly!" -----Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard University

"Election is a powerful biblical theme that has played a significant role in theological reflection through the centuries. Indeed, many a religious controversy has been stirred up around this issue. In Hebrew Bible studies, however, election has been too often assumed and too little explored. So Joel Kaminsky’s insightful and careful study is welcome indeed. Especially to be commended are his careful analysis of texts, his balanced assessment of the evidence, and his theological alertness. The clarity and accessibility of his presentation of this complex theme will enable scholars, pastors, and laypersons alike to profit from a close reading of his work."-----Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

The full bibliography for Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election (Abingdon, 2007)

Seven recent reviews of Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election and my response to them

See Jon Levenson's essay, "Chosenness and Its Enemies" (Commentary, December 2008) in which he discusses my book at length.

III. Course Syllabi

Introduction to World Religions, Religion 105
Jewish Civilization: Text and Tradition, JUD 125/Religion 225
Introduction to Bible I, Religion 162
Approaches to the Study of Religion, Religion 200
Wisdom Literature and Other Books from the Writings, Religion 211
Prophecy in Ancient Israel, Religion, Religion 213
Seminar: Hebrew Bible, Religion 310, Topic: Sibling Rivalries: Israel and "the Other" in the Hebrew Bible

IV. Links to other sites

Smith College Department of Religion

Smith College Program in Jewish Studies

An extensive directory of online materials connected to the study of religion

Society of Biblical Literature's educational resources site

Society of Biblical Literature's Bible Odyssey site, designed as biblical scholarship for the general public

The Wabash Center List of Internet Resources for Study of Religion and Theology which contains many good links to other sites

A comprehensive list of links related to biblical studies

Ioudaos Review, an online journal that publishes material connected to biblical studies

An amazing site on all aspects of Judaism

K.C. Hanson's site which contains many links to museums and bibliographies relevant to the study of the Bible