Interview: Yehuda Mansell

School/Institution:

Durham University/Vancouver School of Theology

Areas of Interest/Research:

Biblical Studies, Theology, Semitics, Ancient Near Eastern Studies

What is it about your field that you love researching?

My field is like a complex treasure map with so many interesting diversions and points of interest. I’m infinitely curious about so many things, and my field provides endless possibilities.

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

Being aware of the literary framework of a text is critical to understanding what a text means by how it means.

What is your current research about?

The theological and compositional ramifications of Neo-Babylonian law in the book of Job. 

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

I have so many academic heroes, all for different reasons. But I would like to highlight Dr. F. Rachel Magdalene (@FRMagdalene): A lawyer, theologian, a pastor, biblical and linguistic scholar, and social activist; Dr. Magdalene is particularly inspiring in how she personifies interdisciplinary scholarship that is integrated and engaged in the real world pursuit of justice. Her work is the inspiration for my work.

What books have been formative for you in your study? Why were they so important? How did they shape you?

Yehezkel Kaufmann: The Religion of Israel, from Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile helped orient me towards a different view of Israel’s historical development, and I found that it opened for me a world of wonder. If we lose wonder our research can become flat and meaningless.

Robert Alter: The Art of Biblical Narrative, blew my mind and reintroduced magic back into my reading of Biblical narrative. This text led me to Adele Berlin, and Meir Sternberg; scholars I cherish.

Carol Newsom: Job, which introduced me to Mikhail Bakhtin, and being a lover of literature before I was a Biblical Scholar, Alter and Newsom speak to my soul.

Jonathan Hill: A History of Christian Thought. Though completely out of my field, this opened to me a world of Christian scholars who had been merely obscure and crude caricatures up until that time. This book was one of the springboards to my pursuit of post-secondary education.

Do you have any publications we can showcase?

  1. I have ghost-written a handful of books, but I can’t tell you which ones. 😊
  2. My only official publication is a puff-piece in a Hebrew language business magazine: https://status.co.il/%d7%9b%d7%a9%d7%98%d7%99%d7%98%d7%99-%d7%a4%d7%92%d7%a9%d7%94-%d7%90%d7%aa-%d7%90%d7%95%d7%91%d7%9e%d7%94/

Where can we follow you online?

 @runhudi

If we ran into you at a conference and you didn’t want to talk about your field what would you want to talk about?

  1. Ultra-running: I love running irrationally long-distances. 
  2. Skateboarding: I’m an old skater, who recently started again in my 40s. 
  3. Punk and hardcore music; see b. 
  4. I work extensively with refugees and so, matters of social justice, and helping people restart their lives infused with hope, in a new land is deeply meaningful to me.

What research/writing project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

  • I teach Cultural Anthropology, and this provides endless branches of studies that inspire rugged curiosity: Critical Race Theory, gender, sexuality, kinship, language, and religion.
  • I teach the books of Ruth and Esther, and this allows me to stay fresh in literary theory, Persian history, Semitic linguistics, and the thorny subject of sexual violence in sacred texts.
  • I have an idea percolating in my brain about the intersection of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian thought, but haven’t been able to put my weight down on this yet.

>> Thank you so much, Yehuda, for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work.


Are you a PhD student or Early Career Researcher working in Religion or Biblical Studies? If so, we’d like to hear from you. This website is dedicated solely to interviewing PhD students and ECRs on who they are, what they love about their work, and what has inspired them. If you’d like to be interviewed, head over to the Contact page and fill out the form. There’s no catch. Don’t be shy. Self-promotion is a virtue.

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