Marilyn Dunn
Arc Humanities Press, 2021
This book surveys Arianism, a Christian creed of tremendous historical importance that once served as the faith of Roman emperors and the barbarians on the frontiers alike, while it simultaneously advances existing scholarship by integrating the approaches of history and theology with those drawn from the cognitive science of religion. This paradigm shift allows us to understand the initial support for the Arian creed and its eventual rejection by Roman emperors; to recognize the nature of intuitions of divinity amongst Germanic peoples before their conversion; to discern the way in which these were translated into Christian belief; and to differentiate the beliefs of Arius from those called "Arians" by their opponents.

Becoming Frum
How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism
Sarah Bunin Benor
Rutgers University Press, 2012

Winner, 2013 Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature

When non-Orthodox Jews become frum (religious), they encounter much more than dietary laws and Sabbath prohibitions. They find themselves in the midst of a whole new culture, involving matchmakers, homemade gefilte fish, and Yiddish-influenced grammar. Becoming Frum explains how these newcomers learn Orthodox language and culture through their interactions with community veterans and other newcomers. Some take on as much as they can as quickly as they can, going beyond the norms of those raised in the community. Others maintain aspects of their pre-Orthodox selves, yielding unique combinations, like Matisyahu’s reggae music or Hebrew words and sing-song intonation used with American slang, as in “mamish (really) keepin’ it real.”

Sarah Bunin Benor brings insight into the phenomenon of adopting a new identity based on ethnographic and sociolinguistic research among men and women in an American Orthodox community. Her analysis is applicable to other situations of adult language socialization, such as students learning medical jargon or Canadians moving to Australia. Becoming Frum offers a scholarly and accessible look at the linguistic and cultural process of “becoming.”


Beyond the Monastery Walls
The Ascetic Revolution in Russian Orthodox Thought, 1814–1914
Patrick Lally Michelson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
During Russia's late imperial period, Orthodox churchmen, professionally trained theologians, and an array of social commentators sought to give meaning to Russian history and its supposed backwardness. Many found that meaning in asceticism. For some, ascetic religiosity prevented Russia from achieving its historical destiny. For others, it was the means by which the Russian people would realize the kingdom of God, thereby saving Holy Russia and the world from the satanic forces of the West.

Patrick Lally Michelson's intellectual history of asceticism in Russian Orthodox thought traces the development of these competing arguments from the early nineteenth century to the early months of World War I. He demonstrates that this discourse was an imaginative interpretation of lived Orthodoxy, primarily meant to satisfy the ideological needs of Russian thinkers and Orthodox intellectuals as they responded to the socioeconomic, political, and cultural challenges of modernity.

Byzantine Rome
Annie Montgomery Labatt
Arc Humanities Press, 2022
Why does medieval Rome look so, for lack of a better word, Byzantine? Why do its monuments speak an aesthetic of the medieval East? And just how do we quantify that Byzantine aesthetic or even the word “Byzantine”? This book seeks to consider the ways in which the artistic styles and iconographies generally associated with the eastern medieval tradition had a life in the West and, in many cases, were just as western as they were eastern. Rome’s medieval monuments are a fundamental part of the history of the East, a history that says more about a cross- cultural exchange and interconnected “Romes” than difference and separation. Each chapter follows the political and theological relationships between the East and the West chronologically, exploring the socio-political exchanges as they manifest in the visual language of the monuments that defined the medieval landscape of Rome.

Degrees of Separation
Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism
Schneur Zalman Newfield
Temple University Press, 2020

Those who exit a religion—particularly one they were born and raised in—often find themselves at sea in their efforts to transition to life beyond their community. In Degrees of Separation, Schneur Zalman Newfield, who went through this process himself, interviews seventy-four Lubavitch and Satmar ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews who left their communities.He presents their motivations for leaving as well as how they make sense of their experiences and their processes of exiting, detailing their attitudes and opinions regarding their religious upbringing. Newfield also examines how these exiters forge new ways of being that their upbringing had not prepared them for, while also considering what these particular individuals lose and retain in the exit process.

Degrees of Separation presents a comprehensive portrait of the prolonged state of being “in-between” that characterizes transition out of a totalizing worldview. What Newfield discovers is that exiters experience both a sense of independence and a persistent connection; they are not completely dislocated from their roots once they “arrive” at their new destination. Moreover, Degrees of Separation shows that this process of transitioning identity has implications beyond religion.


Desert Ascetics of Egypt
Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom
Arc Humanities Press, 2023
Egypt is revered as the home of the famous Desert Ascetics, who first embraced a monastic life and established homosocial communities on the borders of their urban centres in the Nile Valley. Regarded as angels and warriors, the wisdom of the Desert Ascetics formed part of the oral and literary tradition of wonder-working saints whose commitment to asceticism was legendary and inspirational. This book grounds the mythologized stories of Desert Ascetics in the materiality of the desert, demonstrating the closeness of the desert, the connections between non-monastic and monastic communities, and the exciting insights into lived monasticism through the archaeology of monasticism in Egypt.

Europe, Byzantium, and the "Intellectual Silence" of Rus' Culture
Donald Ostrowski
Arc Humanities Press, 2018
This book sets out to answer the question of why Eastern Church writers showed no interest in analytical reasoning - the so-called "intellectual silence" of Rus' culture - while Western Church writers, by the time of the Scholastics, routinely incorporated analytical reasoning into their defences of the faith.Donald Ostrowski suggests that Western, post-Enlightenment- trained, analytical scholars often miss the point, not because of an inability to comprehend cultural ideas which seem abstract and ineffable, but because the agenda is different.

European Expansion and the Contested Borderlands of Late Medieval Podillya, Ukraine
Vitaliy Mykhaylovskiy
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
This book focuses on a key zone within the eastern frontier of medieval Europe: Podillya in modern-day Ukraine. Vitaliy Mykhaylovskiy offers a definitive guide to the region, which experienced great cultural and religious diversity, together with a continuous influx of newcomers. This is where Christian farmers met Muslim nomads. This is where German town residents and Polish nobles met urban Armenians and Tatars serving in the military. Podillya offers a unique opportunity to see interaction of so many peoples, principalities, and cultures – the eastern frontier of Europe at its most dynamic.

Expanding the Palace of Torah
Orthodoxy and Feminism
Tamar Ross
Brandeis University Press, 2004
Expanding the Palace of Torah offers a broad philosophical overview of the challenges the women’s revolution poses to Orthodox Judaism, as well as Orthodox Judaism’s response to those challenges. Writing as an insider—herself an Orthodox Jew—Tamar Ross confronts the radical feminist critique of Judaism as a religion deeply entrenched in patriarchy. Surprisingly, very little work has been done in this area, beyond exploring the leeway for ad hoc solutions to practical problems as they arise on the halakhic plane. In exposing the largely male-focused thrust of the rabbinic tradition and its biblical grounding, she sees this critique as posing a potential threat to the theological heart of traditional Judaism—the belief in divine revelation.

This new edition brings this acclaimed and classic text back into print with a new essay by Tamar Ross which examines new developments in feminist thought since the book was first published in 2004.

The First Crusade
The Call from the East
Peter Frankopan
Harvard University Press, 2012

According to tradition, the First Crusade began at the instigation of Pope Urban II and culminated in July 1099, when thousands of western European knights liberated Jerusalem from the rising menace of Islam. But what if the First Crusade’s real catalyst lay far to the east of Rome? In this groundbreaking book, countering nearly a millennium of scholarship, Peter Frankopan reveals the untold history of the First Crusade.

Nearly all historians of the First Crusade focus on the papacy and its willing warriors in the West, along with innumerable popular tales of bravery, tragedy, and resilience. In sharp contrast, Frankopan examines events from the East, in particular from Constantinople, seat of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The result is revelatory. The true instigator of the First Crusade, we see, was the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who in 1095, with his realm under siege from the Turks and on the point of collapse, begged the pope for military support.

Basing his account on long-ignored eastern sources, Frankopan also gives a provocative and highly original explanation of the world-changing events that followed the First Crusade. The Vatican’s victory cemented papal power, while Constantinople, the heart of the still-vital Byzantine Empire, never recovered. As a result, both Alexios and Byzantium were consigned to the margins of history. From Frankopan’s revolutionary work, we gain a more faithful understanding of the way the taking of Jerusalem set the stage for western Europe’s dominance up to the present day and shaped the modern world.


Icon of the Kingdom of God
An Orthodox Ecclesiology
Radu Bordeianu
Catholic University of America Press, 2023
What is the Church? Some would answer this question by studying the Scriptures, the history of the Church, and contemporary theologians, thus addressing the theological nature of the Church. Others would answer based on statistics, interviews, and personal observation, thus focusing on the experience of the Church. These theological and experiential perspectives are in tension, or at times even opposed. Whereas the first might speak about the local church as the diocese gathered in the Liturgy presided over by its bishop, the latter would describe the local church as the parish community celebrating the Liturgy together with the parish priest, never experiencing a sole liturgy that gathers an entire diocese around its bishop. Whereas a theologian might abstractly describe the Church as a reflection of the Trinity, a regular church-member might concretely experience the Church as a community that manifests the Kingdom of God in its outreach ministries. Radu Bordeianu attempts to bring these two perspectives together, starting from the concrete experience of the Church, engaging this experience with the theological tradition of the Church, extracting ecclesiological principles from this combined approach, and then highlighting concrete situations that reflect those standards or proposing correctives, when necessary. Without pretending to be a complete Orthodox ecclesiology, Icon of the Kingdom of God addresses the most important topics related to the Church. It progresses according to one’s experience of the Church from baptism, to the family, parish, Liturgy, and priesthood, followed by analyses of synodality and nationality. Arguing that the Church is an icon of the Kingdom of God, this volume brings together the past theological heritage and the present experience of the Church while having three methodological characteristics: experiential, Kingdom-centered, and ecumenical.

The Paterik of the Kievan Caves Monastery
Muriel Heppell
Harvard University Press

The Kievan Caves Monastery was for centuries the most important Ukrainian monastic establishment. It was the outstanding center of literary production, and its monks served throughout the territory of Rus’ as bishops and monastic superiors. The most detailed source for the monastery early history is its Paterik, a thirteenth-century compilation containing stories reaching back to the monastery’s foundation in the mid-eleventh century. Muriel Heppell now makes available the first complete English translation of the Paterik. With an introduction, map, and several appendices, Heppell discusses the work’s Byzantine background and also sets it in its historical context.

The Harvard Library of Early Ukrainian Literature is one portion of the Harvard Project in Commemoration of the Millennium of Christianity in Rus’-Ukraine sponsored by the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University. The Library encompasses literary activity in Rus’-Ukraine from its beginning in the mid-eleventh century through the end of the eighteenth century. Included are ecclesiastical and secular works written in a variety of languages, such as Church Slavonic, Old Rus’, Ruthenian (Middle Ukrainian), Polish, and Latin. This linguistic diversity reflects the cultural pluralism of Ukrainian intellectual life in the medieval and early-modern periods. The Library consists of three parts: Texts, which publishes original works, in facsimile whenever appropriate; English Translations; and Ukrainian Translations. Each volume begins with an introductory essay by a specialist. The two translation series also include maps, appendices, and indices. A cumulative index to the entire Library is planned.


Jacob’s Younger Brother
Christian-Jewish Relations after Vatican II
Karma Ben-Johanan
Harvard University Press, 2022

A revealing account of contemporary tensions between Jews and Christians, playing out beneath the surface of conciliatory interfaith dialogue.

A new chapter in Jewish-Christian relations opened in the second half of the twentieth century when the Second Vatican Council exonerated Jews from the accusation of deicide and declared that the Jewish people had never been rejected by God. In a few carefully phrased statements, two millennia of deep hostility were swept into the trash heap of history.

But old animosities die hard. While Catholic and Jewish leaders publicly promoted interfaith dialogue, doubts remained behind closed doors. Catholic officials and theologians soon found that changing their attitude toward Jews could threaten the foundations of Christian tradition. For their part, many Jews perceived the new Catholic line as a Church effort to shore up support amid atheist and secular advances. Drawing on extensive research in contemporary rabbinical literature, Karma Ben-Johanan shows that Jewish leaders welcomed the Catholic condemnation of antisemitism but were less enthusiastic about the Church’s sudden urge to claim their friendship. Catholic theologians hoped Vatican II would turn the page on an embarrassing history, hence the assertion that the Church had not reformed but rather had always loved Jews, or at least should have. Orthodox rabbis, in contrast, believed they were finally free to say what they thought of Christianity.

Jacob’s Younger Brother pulls back the veil of interfaith dialogue to reveal how Orthodox rabbis and Catholic leaders spoke about each other when outsiders were not in the room. There Ben-Johanan finds Jews reluctant to accept the latest whims of a Church that had unilaterally dictated the terms of Jewish-Christian relations for centuries.


Medieval Bosnia and South-East European Relations
Political, Religious, and Cultural Life at the Adriatic Crossroads
Dženan Dautovic
Arc Humanities Press, 2019
<p >As a small, landlocked country, medieval Bosnia managed topreserve its individuality, characterized by religious plurality and by thepersistence of its own ancient customs. But its central position in the region,situated between east and west, and between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity,meant it was heavily influenced, both politically and culturally by theVenetian Republic, the Hungarian Kingdom, and the Byzantine Empire. Due to languageissues and scarcity of sources, this region has largely been overlooked bywestern historiography. This volume features contributions from an exciting newgeneration of medievalists, who are working to rectify this gap in thenarrative.</p>

Memories of Two Generations
A Yiddish Life in Russia and Texas
Alexander Z. Gurwitz, Edited and Introduced by Bryan Edward Stone
University of Alabama Press, 2022
The 1935 autobiography of Alexander Ziskind Gurwitz, an Orthodox Jew whose lively recounting of his life in Tsarist Russia and his immigration to San Antonio, Texas, in 1910 captures turbulent changes in early twentieth-century Jewish history

In 1910, at the age of fifty-one, Alexander Ziskind Gurwitz made the bold decision to emigrate with his wife and four children from southeastern Ukraine in Tsarist Russia to begin a new life in Texas. In 1935, in his seventies, Gurwitz composed a retrospective autobiography, Memories of Two Generations, that recounts his personal story both of the rich history of the lost Jewish world of Eastern Europe and of the rambunctious development of frontier Jewish communities in the United States.
In both Europe and America, Gurwitz inhabited an almost exclusively Jewish world. As a boy, he studied in traditional yeshivas and earned a living as a Hebrew language teacher and kosher butcher. Widely travelled, Gurwitz recalls with wit and insight daily life in European shtetls, providing perceptive and informative comments about Jewish religion, history, politics, and social customs. Among the book’s most notable features is his first-hand, insider’s account of the yearly Jewish holiday cycle as it was observed in the nineteenth century, described as he experienced it as a child.
Gurwitz’s account of his arrival in Texas forms a cornerstone record of the Galveston Immigration Movement; this memoir represents the only complete narrative of that migration from an immigrant’s point of view. Gurwitz’s descriptions about the development of a thriving Orthodox community in San Antonio provide an important and unique primary source about a facet of American Jewish life that is not widely known.
Gurwitz wrote his memoir in his preferred Yiddish, and this translation into English by Rabbi Amram Prero captures the lyrical style of the original. Scholar and author Bryan Edward Stone’s special introduction and illuminating footnotes round out a superb edition that offers much to experts and general readers alike.

Naming Infinity
A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity
Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor
Harvard University Press, 2009

In 1913, Russian imperial marines stormed an Orthodox monastery at Mt. Athos, Greece, to haul off monks engaged in a dangerously heretical practice known as Name Worshipping. Exiled to remote Russian outposts, the monks and their mystical movement went underground. Ultimately, they came across Russian intellectuals who embraced Name Worshipping—and who would achieve one of the biggest mathematical breakthroughs of the twentieth century, going beyond recent French achievements.

Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor take us on an exciting mathematical mystery tour as they unravel a bizarre tale of political struggles, psychological crises, sexual complexities, and ethical dilemmas. At the core of this book is the contest between French and Russian mathematicians who sought new answers to one of the oldest puzzles in math: the nature of infinity. The French school chased rationalist solutions. The Russian mathematicians, notably Dmitri Egorov and Nikolai Luzin—who founded the famous Moscow School of Mathematics—were inspired by mystical insights attained during Name Worshipping. Their religious practice appears to have opened to them visions into the infinite—and led to the founding of descriptive set theory.

The men and women of the leading French and Russian mathematical schools are central characters in this absorbing tale that could not be told until now. Naming Infinity is a poignant human interest story that raises provocative questions about science and religion, intuition and ­creativity.


Nihil Obstat
Religion, Politics, and Social Change in East-Central Europe and Russia
Sabrina P. Ramet
Duke University Press, 1998
Nihil Obstat—Latin for "nothing stands in the way"—examines the interplay between religion and politics in East-Central Europe and Russia. While focusing on the postcommunist, late twentieth century, Sabrina P. Ramet discusses developments as far back as the eleventh century to explain the patterns that have developed over time and to show how they still affect contemporary interecclesiastical relations as well as those among Church, state, and society.
Based on interview research in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Macedonia, and on materials published in German, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, and English, Ramet paints a clear picture of the political and religious fragility of former communist states, which are experiencing some aspects of freedom and choice for the first time. With its comprehensive discussion of the largest religious institutions in the area, especially the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and its extensive survey of nontraditional religious associations that have become active in the region since 1989, this study makes a distinct contribution to growing discussions about the rise of fundamentalism and the inner dilemmas of modernity. With its depth of information and thoughtful exploration of cultural traditions, Nihil Obstat uniquely presents the ramifications and complexities of European religion in a postcommunist world.

Nonnus of Nisibis, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint John
Robert W. Thomson
SBL Press, 2014

A new English translation of the first text translated from Arabic to Armenian for research and classroom use

Robert W. Thomson translates this ninth-century commentary defending the miaphysite theological position of the Armenian church against the chalcedonian position of the Greek Byzantine church. Nonnus’s exegesis of the gospel falls in the context of trends in Eastern Christian biblical exposition, primarily the Syrian tradition. Therefore, Thomson emphasizes the parallels in Syriac commentaries on the book of John, noting also earlier Greek writers whose works were influential in Syria. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the Armenian church and church history.


  • Introductory material on the text’s history, manuscript traditions, and theological importance
  • Translation of the Armenian text and commentary
  • Bibliography covering the Armenian, Greek, Syriac, and Arabic texts as well as secondary sources

Russia's Social Gospel
The Orthodox Pastoral Movement in Famine, War, and Revolution
Daniel Scarborough
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
The late Russian Empire experienced rapid economic change, social dislocation, and multiple humanitarian crises, enduring two wars, two famines, and three revolutions. A “pastoral activism” took hold as parish clergymen led and organized the response of Russia’s Orthodox Christians to these traumatic events. In Russia’s Social Gospel, Daniel Scarborough considers the roles played by pastors in the closing decades of the failing tsarist empire and the explosive 1917 revolutions.
This volume draws upon extensive archival research to examine the effects of the pastoral movement on Russian society and the Orthodox Church. Scarborough argues that the social work of parish clergymen shifted the focus of Orthodox practice in Russia toward cooperative social activism as a devotional activity. He furthers our understanding of Russian Orthodoxy by illuminating the difficult position of parish priests, who were charged with both spiritual and secular responsibilities but were supported by neither church nor state. His nuanced look at the pastorate shows how social and historical traumas shifted perceptions of what being religious meant, in turn affecting how the Orthodox Church organized itself, and contributed to Russia’s modernization.

Saints at the Limits
Seven Byzantine Popular Legends
Stratis Papaioannou
Harvard University Press, 2023

A collection of medieval tales of Byzantine saints, including some rejected by the Church, translated into English for the first time.

The legends collected in Saints at the Limits, despite sometimes being viewed with suspicion by the Church, fascinated Christians during the Middle Ages—as related cults, multiple retellings, and contemporary translations attest. Their protagonists span the entire spectrum of Byzantine society, including foreigners, soldiers, ascetics, lustful women, beggars, and the sons and daughters of rulers. They travel to exotic lands, perform outlandish miracles, suffer extraordinary violence, reject family ties, save cities, destroy absolute rulers, and discover the divine. Some saints, like Markos the Athenian, are forgotten nowadays; others, like Saint George the Great Martyr, still command a wide appeal. Each, however, negotiates the limits of Byzantine imagination: the borders that separate the powerful from the outcasts, the real from the imaginary, the human from the beyond human. These stories, edited in Greek and translated into English here for the first time, continue to resonate with readers seeking to understand universal human fears and desires in their Byzantine guise.


Salvation through Temptation
Maximus the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas on Christ's Victory over the Devil
Benjamin E. Heidgerken
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
Salvation through Temptation describes the development of predominant Greek and Latin Christian conceptions of temptation and of the work of Christ to heal and restore humankind in the context of that temptation, focusing on Maximus the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas as well-developed examples of Greek and Latin thought on these matters. Maximus and Thomas represent two trajectories concerning the woundedness of human emotionality in the wake of the primordial human sin. Heidgerken argues that Maximus stands in essential continuity with earlier Greek ascetic theology, which conceives of the weakness of fallen humankind in demonological categories, so that the Pauline law of sin is bound to external demonic agents that act upon the human mind through thoughts, desires, and sensory impressions. For Thomas, on the other hand, this wound consists primarily of an internal disordering of the faculties that results from the withdrawal of original grace: concupiscence or the fomes peccati. Yet even in this framework, the devil plays a significant role in Thomas’s account of postlapsarian temptation. On the basis of these differing frameworks for human temptation, Heidgerken demonstrates the centrality of Christ’s exemplarity in the Greek account and the centrality of Christ’s moral perfections in the Latin account. As a consequence of these emphases, the Greek tradition of Maximus places distinct limits on the ability of human emotionality (even that of Christ) to be perfected in this life, whereas Thomas’s approach allows Christ to completely embody a perfected form of human emotionality in his earthly life. Reciprocally, Thomas’s account of Christ’s moral perfections and virtue places distinct limits on his affirmation of Christ’s experience of postlapsarian temptation, whereas Maximus’s account allows for Christ to experience interior forms of temptation that more closely mirror the concrete moral experiences and circumstances of fallen human beings. Salvation through Temptation recommends a retrieval of early ascetic theology and demonology as the best contemporary systematic and ecumenically-viable approach to Christ’s temptation and victory over the devil.

Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox
Marc B. Shapiro
University of Scranton Press, 2006
One of the foremost scholars of the Talmud in the last century, Saul Lieberman (1898–1983) is also an intriguing and controversial figure. Highly influential in Orthodox society, he left Israel in 1940 to accept an appointment at the Jewish Theological Seminary, a Conservative institution. During his forty years at the Seminary, Lieberman served in the Rabbinical Assembly as one of the most important arbiters of Jewish law, though his decisions were often too progressive to be recognized by the Orthodox. Marc B. Shapiro here considers Lieberman’s experiences to examine the conflict between Jewish Orthodoxy and Conservatism in the mid-1900s. This invaluable scholarly resource also includes a Hebrew appendix and previously unpublished letters from Lieberman.

Soloveitchik's Children
Irving Greenberg, David Hartman, Jonathan Sacks, and the Future of Jewish Theology in America
Daniel Ross Goodman
University of Alabama Press, 2023

Orthodox Judaism is one of the fastest-growing religious communities in contemporary American life. Anyone who wishes to understand more about Judaism in America will need to consider the tenets and practices of Orthodox Judaism: who its adherents are, what they believe in, what motivates them, and to whom they turn for moral, intellectual, and spiritual guidance.

Among those spiritual leaders none looms larger than Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, heir to the legendary Talmudic dynasty of Brisk and a teacher and ordainer of thousands of rabbis during his time as a Talmud teacher at Yeshiva University from the Second World War until the 1980s. Soloveitchik was not only a Talmudic authority but a scholar of Western philosophy. While many books and articles have been written about Soloveitchik’s legacy and his influence on American Orthodoxy, few have looked carefully at his disciples in Torah and Talmud study, and even fewer at his disciples in Jewish thought and philosophy.

Soloveitchik’s Children: Irving Greenberg, David Hartman, Jonathan Sacks, and the Future of Jewish Theology in America is the first book to study closely three of Soloveitchik’s major disciples in Jewish thought and philosophy: Rabbis Irving (“Yitz”) Greenberg, David Hartman, and Jonathan Sacks. Daniel Ross Goodman narrates how each of these three major modern Jewish thinkers learned from and adapted Soloveitchik’s teachings in their own ways, even while advancing his philosophical and theological legacy.

The story of religious life and Judaism in contemporary America is incomplete without an understanding of how three of the most consequential Jewish thinkers of this generation adapted the teachings of one of the most consequential Jewish thinkers of the previous generation. Soloveitchik’s Children tells this gripping intellectual and religious story in a learned and engaging manner, shining a light on where Jewish religious thought in the United States currently stands—and where it may be heading in future generations.


A Spiritual Revolution
The Impact of Reformation and Enlightenment in Orthodox Russia, 1700–1825
Andrey V. Ivanov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
The ideas of the Protestant Reformation, followed by the European Enlightenment, had a profound and long-lasting impact on Russia’s church and society in the eighteenth century. Though the traditional Orthodox Church was often assumed to have been hostile toward outside influence, Andrey V. Ivanov’s study argues that the institution in fact embraced many Western ideas, thereby undergoing what some observers called a religious revolution.

Embedded with lively portrayals of historical actors and vivid descriptions of political details, A Spiritual Revolution is the first large-scale effort to fully identify exactly how Western progressive thought influenced the Russian Church. These new ideas played a foundational role in the emergence of the country as a modernizing empire and the rise of the Church hierarchy as a forward-looking agency of institutional and societal change. Ivanov addresses this important debate in the scholarship on European history, firmly placing Orthodoxy within the much wider European and global continuum of religious change.

Strictly Observant
Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Women Negotiating Media
Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar
Rutgers University Press, 2024
The Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities have typically been associated with strict religious observance, a renunciation of worldly things, and an obedience of women to men. Women’s relationship to media in these communities, however, betrays a more nuanced picture of the boundaries at play and women’s roles in negotiating them.
Strictly Observant presents a compelling ethnographic study of the complex dynamic between women in both the Pennsylvanian Old Order Amish and Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities and contemporary media technologies. These women regularly establish valuable social, cultural, and religious capital through the countless decisions for use and non-use of media that they make in their daily lives, and in ways that challenge the gender hierarchies of each community. By exhibiting a deep awareness of how media can be managed to increase their social and religious reputations, these women prompt us to reconsider our outmoded understanding of the Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, the role that women play in these communities as agents of change, and our own relationship to media today.

Studying Hasidism
Sources, Methods, Perspectives
Marcin Wodzinski
Rutgers University Press, 2019
Hasidism, a Jewish religious movement that originated in Poland in the eighteenth century, today counts over 700,000 adherents, primarily in the U.S., Israel, and the UK. Popular and scholarly interest in Hasidic Judaism and Hasidic Jews is growing, but there is no textbook dedicated to research methods in the field, nor sources for the history of Hasidism have been properly recognized. Studying Hasidism, edited by Marcin Wodziński, an internationally recognized historian of Hasidism, aims to remedy this gap. The work’s thirteen chapters each draws upon a set of different sources, many of them previously untapped, including folklore, music, big data, and material culture to demonstrate what is still to be achieved in the study of Hasidism. Ultimately, this textbook presents research methods that can decentralize the role community leaders play in the current literature and reclaim the everyday lives of Hasidic Jews.

Identification and Religious Life in a Jewish Neighborhood
Iddo Tavory
University of Chicago Press, 2016
On a typical weekday, men of the Beverly-La Brea Orthodox community wake up early, beginning their day with Talmud reading and prayer at 5:45am, before joining Los Angeles’ traffic. Those who work “Jewish jobs”—teachers, kosher supervisors, or rabbis—will stay enmeshed in the Orthodox world throughout the workday. But even for the majority of men who spend their days in the world of gentiles, religious life constantly reasserts itself. Neighborhood fixtures like  Jewish schools and synagogues are always after more involvement; evening classes and prayers pull them in; the streets themselves seem to remind them of who they are. And so the week goes, culminating as the sabbatical observances on Friday afternoon stretch into Saturday evening. Life in this community, as Iddo Tavory describes it, is palpably thick with the twin pulls of observance and sociality.

In Summoned, Tavory takes readers to the heart of the exhilarating—at times exhausting—life of the Beverly-La Brea Orthodox community. Just blocks from West Hollywood’s nightlife, the Orthodox community thrives next to the impure sights, sounds, and smells they encounter every day. But to sustain this life, as Tavory shows, is not simply a moral decision they make. To be Orthodox is to be constantly called into being. People are reminded of who they are as they are called upon by organizations, prayer quorums, the nods of strangers, whiffs of unkosher food floating through the street, or the rarer Anti-Semitic remarks. Again and again, they find themselves summoned both into social life and into their identity as Orthodox Jews. At the close of Tavory’s fascinating ethnography, we come away with a better understanding of the dynamics of social worlds, identity, interaction and self—not only in Beverly-La Brea, but in society at large.

Thinking Orthodox in Modern Russia
Culture, History, Context
Edited by Patrick Lally Michelson and Judith Deutsch Kornblatt
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
Thinking Orthodox in Modern Russia illuminates the significant role of Russian Orthodox thought in shaping the discourse of educated society during the imperial and early Soviet periods. Bringing together an array of scholars, this book demonstrates that Orthodox reflections on spiritual, philosophical, and aesthetic issues of the day informed much of Russia’s intellectual and cultural climate.
            Volume editors Patrick Lally Michelson and Judith Deutsch Kornblatt provide a historical overview of Russian Orthodox thought and a critical essay on the current state of scholarship about religious thought in modern Russia. The contributors explore a wide range of topics, including Orthodox claims to a unique religious Enlightenment, contests over authority within the Russian Church, tensions between faith and reason in academic Orthodoxy, the relationship between sacraments and the self, the religious foundations of philosophical and legal categories, and the effect of Orthodox categories in the formation of Russian literature.

Women of Valor
Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture
Karen E. H. Skinazi
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Honorable Mention for the Robert K. Martin Prize 2019

Media portrayals of Orthodox Jewish women frequently depict powerless, silent individuals who are at best naive to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and who are at worst, coerced into it. Karen E. H. Skinazi delves beyond this stereotype in Women of Valor to identify a powerful tradition of feminist literary portrayals of Orthodox women, often created by Orthodox women themselves. She examines Orthodox women as they appear in memoirs, comics, novels, and movies, and speaks with the authors, filmmakers, and musicians who create these representations. Throughout the work, Skinazi threads lines from the poem “Eshes Chayil,” the Biblical description of an Orthodox “Woman of Valor.” This proverb unites Orthodoxy and feminism in a complex relationship, where Orthodox women continuously question, challenge, and negotiate Orthodox and feminist values. Ultimately, these women create paths that unite their work, passions, and families under the framework of an “Eshes Chayil,” a woman who situates religious conviction within her own power.