Julia Rhyder

Julia Rhyder

Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Julia Rhyder adopts a broad approach to the study of the Hebrew Bible, focusing on the context of its composition as well as its transmission and reception in ancient Judaism. She is particularly interested in the ritual texts of the Hebrew Bible and the history of the Israelite cult. She combines detailed philological analysis and the methods of historical criticism with the use of anthropological and social theories to illuminate the biblical text, including ritual theory, memory studies, postcolonial theory, and discourse analysis.

Rhyder’s first book, Centralizing the Cult: The Holiness Legislation in Leviticus 17–26 (Mohr Siebeck, 2019), was awarded the 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise. Centralizing the Cult shows how Leviticus 17–26 use ritual legislation to make a new, and distinctive, case as to why the Israelites must defer to a central sanctuary, standardized ritual processes, and a hegemonic priesthood. It further argues that this discourse of centralization reflected historical challenges that faced the priests in Jerusalem during the Persian period: notably, the loss of a royal sponsor, the need to mobilize socioeconomic resources, and the pressure to negotiate with the sanctuary at Mount Gerizim and with a growing diaspora.

Rhyder has published widely in edited collections and journals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature, Dead Sea Discoveries, and Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. She has served as guest editor for the journals Semitica and Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel. In 2021, Julia Rhyder was honored with the David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship. Further awards include the Paul-Chapuis Secrétan prize of the University of Lausanne (2018) and conference funding grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (2016; 2017).

Rhyder is currently working on a monograph that explores key texts of the Hebrew Bible and broader Second Temple writings that describe festivals that commemorate warfare. She is also authoring a commentary on the biblical book of Amos.

Rhyder is a member of the steering committees of the “Pentateuch” and “Biblical Law” program units at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, and a member of the advisory board of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures.

Rhyder holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne (2011, major: Anthropology and Social Theory), a Bachelor of Honours in Theology from the University of Divinity, Australia (2012, major: Biblical Studies), and a PhD in Theology from the University of Lausanne (2018; Hebrew Bible). Before joining Harvard University in 2021, she was a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Publications can be found at academia.edu.

Research Interests:

  • ritual texts of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple traditions
  • ancient Syro-Palestinian history, especially the history of the ancient Israelite cult
  • the compositional history of the Pentateuch, especially the Priestly traditions
  • comparative readings of the Hebrew Bible
  • biblical law
  • warfare and memory
  • reception history
  • postcolonialism

Contact Information

Harvard – NELC
6 Divinity Ave, #308
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 617-496-9049
Office Hours: Thursdays 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM



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