Laura Lieber

Laura Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina; USA), where she directs the Center for Jewish Studies; she holds secondary appointments in the departments of Classical Studies, German Studies, and the Divinity School. She obtained her BA in English and Classics from the University of Arkansas in 1994, with an award of summa cum laude for a thesis on the figure of Lilith in Jewish folklore. She received rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1999, where she wrote a thesis on dialect switching in the book of Judges; and she was awarded her doctorate in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago in 2003, with a dissertation on the exegesis of the Song of Songs in Late Antique and medieval Hebrew poetry. She is a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities Center, and her research has been supported by fellowships from the American Philosophical Society and the Memorial Fund for Jewish Culture. She has also held research fellowships at the Theological University of Kampen (the Netherlands) and the University of Erfurt (Germany). Lieber’s research focuses on the history of Jewish biblical interpretation in the Late Antique synagogue, particularly through the lens of liturgical poetry (piyyut), while also attending to other modes of Jewish exegesis (midrash and targum) and the hymnody of the early Church and Samaritan communities. Lieber is the author of Yannai on Genesis: An Invitation to Piyyut (HUC Press, 2010); A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue (Brill, 2014); Jewish Aramaic Poetry from Antiquity: Translations and Commentary (Brill, 2018); and a forthcoming volume, Classical Samaritan Poetry (Penn State University Press). She co-edited Scriptural Exegesis: The Shapes of Culture and the Religious Imagination: Essays in Honour of Michael Fishbane (Oxford UP, 2009), with Deborah A. Green. She is currently completing a monograph, Staging the Sacred: Performance in Late Ancient Liturgical Poetry (Oxford UP), which examines liturgical poetry from Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan traditions through the lens of theatricality.

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