theodore j. lewis

Theodore J. Lewis

Blum-Iwry Professor of Near Eastern Studies

Gilman 124
Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website


Theodore J. Lewis holds the Blum-Iwry Professorship in Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is a Semitist, a Hebrew Bible scholar, and a historian of religion whose research has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Lewis received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem as an ITT Fellow. Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins he taught at Harvard University and the University of Georgia. 

Lewis is General Editor of the book series Writings from the Ancient World published by SBL Press with 19 volumes under his editorship and another 23 in preparation. He is past editor of the journals Near Eastern Archaeology and Hebrew Annual Review. He is the author of Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit, and co-author of Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. He has co-edited (with Gary Beckman) Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion for the Brown Judaic Studies series. His current research projects include The Religion of Ancient Israel to appear in the Yale Anchor Bible Reference Library series through Yale University Press and Archaic Aramaic to appear through SBL Press.

His articles have appeared in the Biblical Archaeologist, the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Journal of the American Oriental Society, the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, the Journal of Biblical Literature, the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Hebrew Annual Review, Interpretation and Vetus Testamentum. Other articles and book chapters have appeared in collected volumes published by the American Schools of Oriental Research, Blackwell, Eisenbrauns, E. J. Brill, Lockwood Press, Oriental Institute Museum Publications, Palgrave Macmillan, Ugarit-Verlag, Westminster John Knox Press, Wipf & Stock, and Wiley Blackwell.

He has written numerous entries in a variety of reference works including the Anchor Bible Dictionary, the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Near Eastern Archaeology, the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, the Oxford Companion to the Bible, the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, and Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament.

Lewis’s research focuses on the religions of ancient Israel and Syria. In addition to the texts of the Hebrew Bible, he works with alphabetic cuneiform texts from Ugarit (Syria), our most important archival material for understanding the religion of the Late Bronze Age Levantine world.

Lewis concentrates his work on two core issues: (a) understanding the Hebrew Bible as an ancient Near Eastern text, and (b) studying Israelite and Syrian religion through both text and archaeology. His research has found him writing on a variety of topics ranging from Assyrian war crimes to Zerubbabel's failed bid to be the messiah of Israel, not to mention ancestor veneration, apotropaic figurines, Archaic (Old) Aramaic, blasphemy, blood rituals, covenant, the Book of Job, cults of the dead, divinity, family religion, the iconography of the gods, incantations, mythology, political ritual at Ugarit, royal power and persuasion, the scapegoat ritual, textual criticism, Ugaritic poetry, and underworld deities.