Stephen C. Russell

Stephen C. Russell

Associate Professor of History
Room number and address: 
08.65.11 NB

Education

Ph.D. New York University, 2008
Post. Grad. Dip. University of Oxford, 2001
BA University of Pennsylvania, 1996

Bio

My research focusses on the Bible, on the social, political, and legal world that produced it, and on the politics of the Bible's use in the modern world. I read biblical literature in light of archaeological evidence from ancient Israel and literary evidence from other ancient Near Eastern societies. And I oberve its role in shaping the contemporary world. The questions I ask as I read the bible are shaped by my experience as a Jamaican and by conversations taking place across the humanities and social sciences about space and power. 

My first book, Images of Egypt in Early Biblical Literature (Walter de Gruyter, 2009), argues that different communities in ancient Israel and Judah celebrated different traditions of resistance to Egypt’s imperial hegemony. My second book, The King and the Land (Oxford University Press, 2016), shows how the monarchies in ancient Israel and Judah negotiated power within strategically important spaces. In Space, Land, Territory and the Study of the Bible (Brill, 2017), I map eight approaches to the study of space and their implications for reading the Bible. I have also published articles and book chapters on biblical and ancient Near Eastern law and on Jamaican history. 

Course Taught

 

At John Jay College, I have taught in the History Department, the Humanities and Justice Studies Program, and the William E. Macaulay Honors College, including the following courses:

HIS 106 Historical Perspectives on Justice and Inequality.
HIS 127 Microhistories: A Lens into the Past
HIS 203 The Ancient World.
HIS 210 Doing History.
HIS 240 Historiography
HIS 252 Warfare in the Ancient Near East and Egypt.
HIS 282 Selected Topics in History: Law and Society in the Ancient Near East.
HIS 300 Research Methods in History.
HIS 425 Senior Seminar in History.
HIS 489 Honors Track Senior Thesis in History.

HJS 250 Justice in Western Traditions.
HJS 315 Research Methods in Humanities and Justice Studies.
HJS 410 Reading Scholarship in Humanities and Justice.
HJS 415 Senior Thesis in Humanities and Justice Studies.

HON 301 Honors Seminar: The Idea of the Common Good Across Disciplines.

Scholarly Work

Books 

 

Space, Land, Territory and the Study of the Bible. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Originally published as Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation 1.4 (2016): 1–64.

 

The King and the Land: A Geography of Royal Power in the Biblical World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

 

Images of Egypt in Early Biblical Literature: Cisjordan-Israelite, Transjordan-Israelite, and Judahite Portrayals. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 403. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009. 

 

 

Edited Volumes

 

Mighty Baal: Essays in Honor of Mark S. Smith. Harvard Semitic Studies 66. Leiden: Brill, 2020. (Co-edited with Esther J. Hamori.)

 

“Crime and Punishment in the Bible and the Near East.” Special issue, Near Eastern Archaeology 78.4 (2015).

 

 

Journal Articles 

 

“Skin for Skin: Biblical Language in Jamaica’s Morant Bay Rebellion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (forthcoming).

 

“'Slavery Dies Hard': A Radical Perspective on the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.” Slavery & Abolition 43 (2022): 185204.

 

“The Legal Background of the Theme of Land in the Book of Joshua.” Hebrew Studies 59 (2018): 111–128.

 

“Biblical Jubilee Laws in Light of Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Period Contracts.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 130 (2018): 189–203.

 

“Enemies, Lands, and Borders in Biblical Crossing Traditions.” Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History 4 (2017): 163–176.

 

“Space, Land, Territory and the Study of the Bible.” Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation 1.4 (2016): 1–64.

 

“The Syntax of the Legal Metaphor in Hosea 2:4.” Journal of Semitic Studies 61 (2016): 389–402.

 

“Gate and Town in 2 Sam 15:1–6: Collective Politics and Absalom’s Strategy.” Journal of Ancient History 3 (2015): 1–20.

 

“The Hierarchy of Estates in Land and Naboth’s Vineyard.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 38 (2014): 453–69.

 

“Ideologies of Attachment in the Story of Naboth’s Vineyard.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 44 (2014): 13–28.

 

“Abraham’s Purchase of Ephron’s Land in Anthropological Perspective.” Biblical Interpretation 21 (2013): 153–70.

 

 

Book Chapters

 

“The Hidden Politics of Possession and Hereditary Property in Some Hexateuchal Traditions.” In Rachelle Gilmour and Mark Brett, eds., Political Theology and the Bible. Forthcoming.

 

“Response: What Has Political Theology Ever Done for Us?” In Rachelle Gilmour and Mark Brett, eds., Political Theology and the Bible. Forthcoming.

 

“Spatiality and Territoriality: Power Over Land and Power Over People.” In Emanuel Pfoh, ed., A Companion to Social Anthropology and the Hebrew Bible. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, forthcoming.

 

“Representation of Egyptian Places and Personalities in the Biblical Text.” In Susan Tower Hollis, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Egypt and the Hebrew Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

 

“Near Eastern Practice of Law in Deuteronomy.” In Don C. Benjamin, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Book of Deuteronomy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.  DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190273552.013.2

 

“Monarchy and Law in the Pre-Exilic Period.” Pages 333–352 in Pamela Barmash, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 

 

“Samuel’s Theophany and the Politics of Religious Dreams.” Pages 111–135 in Esther J. Hamori and Jonathan Stökl, eds., Perchance to Dream: Essays on Dream Divination in Biblical and Other Ancient Near Eastern and Early Jewish Sources. Ancient Near Eastern Monographs 21. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2018.

 

“Religious Space and Structures.” Pages 356–377 in John Barton, ed., The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.

 

“The Structure of Legal Administration in the Moses Story.” Pages 317–329 in Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, and William H.C. Propp, eds., Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture, and Geoscience. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International, 2015.

 

 

Survey Articles

 

“Temples and Sanctuaries.” In Christopher Matthews, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Biblical Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

 

“Biblical Law in the Hebrew Bible.” In Christopher Matthews, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Biblical Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 

 

“Exodus as a Theme.” In Naomi Seidman, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 

 

 

Reviews

 

Review of Daniel D. Pioske, Memory in a Time of Prose: Studies in Epistemology, Hebrew Scribalism, and the Biblical Past. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 78 (2019): 172–174.

 

Review of Elaine T. James, Landscapes of the Song of Songs: Poetry and Place. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Review of Biblical Literature (2018). <https://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/11758_13117.pdf>

 

Review of Nili Wazana, All the Boundaries of the Land: The Promised Land in Biblical Thought in Light of the Ancient Near East. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013. Journal of Religion 95 (2015): 389–391.

 

Review of Jeffrey L. Cooley, Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East: The Reflexes of Celestial Science in Ancient Mesopotamian, Ugaritic, and Israelite Narrative. HACL 5. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013. Review of Biblical Literature (2015). <http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/9201_10145.pdf>

 

Review of Anne Marie Kitz, Cursed Are You! The Phenomenology of Cursing in Cuneiform and Hebrew Texts. Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns, 2014. Review of Biblical Literature (2015). <http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/9742_10761.pdf>

 

Review of Thomas Petter, The Land between the Two Rivers: Early Israelite Identities in Transjordan. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2014. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 14 (2014). <http://www.jhsonline.org/reviews/reviews_new/review724.htm>

 

Review of A. Graem Auld, I & II Samuel. Old Testament Library. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011. Scottish Journal of Theology 67 (2014): 236–238.

 

Review of Benjamin D. Sommer, The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Scottish Journal of Theology 66 (2013): 483–485.

 

Review of Koowon Kim, Incubation as a Type-Scene in the Aqhatu, Kirta, and Hannah Stories: A Form-Critical and Narratological Study of KTU 1.14 I–1.15 III, 1.17 I–II, and 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11. VTSup 145. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 13 (2013). <http://www.jhsonline.org/reviews/reviews_new/review665.htm>

 

Review of David Miano, Shadow on the Steps: Time Measurement in Ancient Israel. SBL Resources for Biblical Study 64. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010. Journal of the American Oriental Society 133 (2013): 30–31.

 

Review of Yair Lorberbaum, Disempowered King: Monarchy in Classical Jewish Literature. New York: Continuum, 2011. Biblical Interpretation 20 (2012): 489–90.

 

Research Summary

Competitive Conference Papers

 

“Woe unto You That Are Rich: George Gordon and Jamaica’s Morant Bay War.”
Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2021

 

“Skin for Skin: The Bible and the Morant Bay War in the Age of Emancipation.”
Slavery, Resistance, and Freedom Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November, 2020

 

“Leviticus 25 in Light of Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Contracts.”
Economics in the Biblical World Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2017

 

“Agrarian Ideology in the Book of Conquest.”
Hebrew Scripture and Cognate Literature Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2016

 

“The Foreign Architecture of Solomon’s Temple in Anthropological Perspective.”
Hebrew Bible, History, and Archaeology Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2013

 

“Naboth’s Vineyard and Max Gluckman’s Hierarchy of Estates in Land.”
Biblical Law Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2012

 

“Remembered Spaces of Judgment and Absalom’s Political Strategy (2 Sam 15:2–6).”
Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2012

 

“The House of Jehu and Tribal Notions of Land.”
Social Sciences and the Interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2011

 

“The Spatial Fix in the Development of Biblical Monotheism.”
Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2010

 

“The Narrative Significance of Samuel’s House Burial in 1 Sam 25:1.”
Reading, Theory, and the Bible Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2010

 

“The Assembly of Yahweh’s People: Judahite Pilgrimage and Israelite Muster.”
Hebrew Bible Division
Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Studies, December 2009

 

“The Imagined Landscape of the Bethel Sanctuary.”
Book of the Twelve Prophets Section
Annual Meeting: of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2009

 

“The Mythological and Military Background of the Root ‘BR in Exod 15:16.”
Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2008

 

 

Invited Conference, Symposium, and Colloquium Papers

 

“The Hidden Politics of Possession and Hereditary Property in Some Hexateuchal Traditions.”
Political Theology and the Bible Conference
University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia, July 2020. Hosted virtually.

 

“The Legal Background of the Theme of Land in the Book of Joshua.”
Bible Seminar
Columbia University, February 2017

 

“Enemies, Lands, and Borders in Biblical Crossing Traditions.”
Hic Sunt Dracones: Creating, Defining, and Abstracting Place in the Ancient World
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
New York University, October 2016

 

“The Hierarchy of Estates in Land in the Book of Joshua.”
Joshua–Judges Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2015

 

“Absalom’s Gate.”
Jewish Studies Speaker Series
Jewish Studies Department
Tulane University, October 2015

 

“Land Rights in the Story of Naboth’s Vineyard.”
Law, Crime, and Human Rights in Global History: Celebrating John Jay College’s Fiftieth Anniversary
History Department
John Jay College, CUNY, March 2015

 

“The Politics of Gates and Towns in the Ancient Levant.”
Near Eastern Studies Departmental Colloquium
Cornell University, December 2013

 

“What do the Bible and Wikipedia Have in Common?”
Jewish Studies Program Lecture Series
Temple University, November 2013

 

“Samuel’s Theophany in its Ancient Context.”
Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts Section
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, November 2013

 

“Sources of Judicial Authority in the Moses Story.”
Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus between Text and Memory, History and Imagination
University of California, San Diego, June 2013

 

“Abraham’s Purchase of Ephron’s Land.”
Bible Seminar
Columbia University, December 2012

 

“The House of Jehu and Naboth’s Ancestral Land (1 Kgs 21).”
Old Testament Research Colloquium
Princeton Theological Seminary, March 2012

 

“Judahite Pilgrimage and Israelite Wartime Assembly in 1 Kings 8.”
Memory and Identity Working Group
Near Eastern Studies Department
University of California, Berkeley, March 2011

 

“Beyond Sacred Space: A Geography of Power in the Hebrew Bible.”
Jewish Studies Working Group
Graduate Theological Union, January 2011

 

“Jeroboam’s Calves and Early Israelite Traditions about Egypt.”
Symposium on the Golden Calf Stories
Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
New York University, October 2007