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Dr. Ben Wright

Professor

610.758.3344
bgw1@lehigh.edu
0031 - Williams Hall
Education:

1975, B.A. Ursinus College, cum laude (Philosophy/Religion)

1978, M.Div. Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, summa cum laude (Biblical Studies)

1988, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (Christian Origins)

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Research Areas

Additional Interests

  • Second Temple Judaism
  • Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
  • Wisdom Literature
  • Translation/Septuagint
  • Book of Ben Sira
  • Letter of Aristeas

Biography

Benjamin Wright is University Distinguished Professor in the Religion Studies Department at Lehigh University. Many hours of Professor Wright's teenage years were spent reading the Bible. It only occurred to him after starting a major in Biology in college that he could spend a career doing that. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Ursinus College, a small liberal arts college outside of Norristown, PA. After college he attended Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where he earned his M.Div. in Biblical Studies. He finished his “formal” education at the University of Pennsylvania where he received a Ph.D. in Christian Origins, although the fun part of his job is learning new things about the ancient world every day.

At Lehigh he teaches courses in Bible, ancient Jewish and Christian literature, and the history of Judaism and Early Christianity. His research focuses mostly on Judaism in the Second Temple period (from about 300 BCE to the end of the first century CE), which includes the beginnings of Christianity. While he has published on a variety of subjects, most of his research has concentrated on three areas: (1) Jewish Wisdom literature of the period, especially a book called the Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sira; (2) the translation of Jewish literature from Hebrew into Greek; and (3) the Dead Sea Scrolls. His 2015 commentary on the Letter of Aristeas for inclusion in the Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature series (published by Walter de Gruyter) is the most comprehensive commentary on this fascinating Jewish text. He also edited with Albert Pietersma of the University of Toronto and translator, A New English Translation of the Septuagint (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), the first translation into English since 1841 of the Septuagint/Old Greek translations. 

So much for the “formal” part. Anyone can look at the course catalog or Prof. Wright’s curriculum vitae and find out all this information. Prof. Wright is an avid guitar player. He has played in several bands. He currently plays out occasionally but mostly plays with friends just for the fun of playing.  Prof. Wright has performed with his wife Mary, a theater artist and storyteller at Touchstone Theatre here in Bethlehem (http://www.touchstone.org/). He played the music in her one-woman show Arabella’s Great Adventure, the story of an intrepid single woman traveling the Oregon Trail. They have also performed together as the Community Guests at Touchstone Theater's "Christmas City Follies." He also loves to cook and is a devoted enophile. 

For a detailed CV click here

Books:

The Letter of Aristeas: ‘Aristeas to Philocrates’ or ‘On the Translation of the Law of the Jews’. Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015. [ISBN: 978-3-11-043904-5]

Praise Israel for Wisdom and Instruction: Essays on Ben Sira and Wisdom, The Letter of Aristeas and the Septuagint. JSJSup 131; Leiden: Brill, 2008. [ISBN: 978-90-04-16908-1]. 

A New English Translation of the Septuagint [NETS]. Co-editor with Albert Pietersma. New York: Oxford, 2007 [ISBN: 9780195289756]. 

Conflicted Boundaries in Wisdom and Apocalypticism. Co-editor with Lawrence Wills and principal contributor. Symposium Series. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005 [ISBN: 1589831845]. 

The Apocryphal Ezekiel. With Michael E. Stone and David Satran. SBLEJL 18. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000 [ISBN: 0884140229]. 

A Multiform Heritage: Studies on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Robert A. Kraft. Editor and principal contributor. Scholars Press Homage Series 24. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999 [ISBN: 9780788505836].

No Small Difference: Sirach's Relationship to Its Hebrew Parent Text. SBLSCS 26. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989 [ISBN: 1555403751].

 Recent Articles and Other Publications:

“Ben Sira and Cat Stevens: Raising Sons to Stand in the River of Tradition.” In Above, Below, Before, and After: Studies on Judaism and Christianity in Dialogue with Martha Himmelfarb. Ra’anon Boustan, David Frankfurter, and Annette Yoshiko Reed, eds. TSAJ 188. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2023, 43–59.

“The Earliest and Most Complete Story of the Translation of the Pentateuch into Greek: The Letter of Aristeas (excerpts).”  In Pluralingualism in Traditional Eurasian Scholarship. Thinking in Many Tongues. Glen W. Most, Dagmar Schäfer and Mårten Söderblom Saarela, eds. Leiden: Brill, 2023, 317–28.

 “Where is the Torah in Ben Sira?” In Torah: Functions, Meanings, and Diverse Manifestations in Early Judaism and Christianity. William M. Schniedewind, Jason M. Zurawski, and Gabriele Boccaccini, eds. EJL 56. Atlanta: SBL, 2022, 145–65.

 “What’s in a Name? The Book of Ben Sira and Its Paratexts.” In Understanding Texts in Early Judaism: Studies on Biblical, Qumranic, Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in Memory of Géza Xeravits. József Zsengellér, ed. DCLS 48. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2022, 207–221.

 “Interdisciplinary Intersections: Septuagint Studies, Classics, and Translation Studies.” In Narratives on Translations Across Eurasia and Africa: From Babylonia to Colonial India. Sonja Brentjes, ed. Contact and Transmission: Intercultural Encounters from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period 3. Turnhout: Brepols, 2022, 45–66.

 “’Do Not Defraud the Life of the Poor’: Notes on the Greek of Sir 4:1–10.” In Ben Sira in Conversation with Jewish Traditions: Festschrift for Nuria Calduch-Benages. Francis M. Macatangay and Javier Ruiz-Ortiz, eds. Together with Renate Egger-Wenzel. DCLS 47. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2022, 65–77.

 “Globalization and the ‘Hellenization’ of Jews in the Second Temple Period.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 53 (2022): 469–488.

 “Weisheit and Sirach.” In Gerhard von Rad and the Study of Wisdom Literature. Timothy Sandoval and Bernd U. Schipper, eds. AIL 46. Atlanta: SBL, 2022, 139–159.

 “Ἰσοδυναμέω and Translation into Greek in Sirach.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 52 (2021): 500–521.

 “Ben Sira.” In The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and the Bible. Will Kynes, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, 583–598.

 “The Septuagint in Second Temple Judaism.” In The T&T Clark Handbook of Septuagint Research, William A. Ross and W. Edward Glenny, eds. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2021, 231–241.

 “Ben Sira’s Pseudo-Pseudepigraphy: Idealizations from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages” (with Eva Mroczek). In Sirach and its Contexts: The Pursuit of Human Flourishing. Greg Schmidt Goering, Samuel Adams, and Matthew Goff, eds. JSJS 196. Leiden: Brill, 2021, 213–239.

 “The Production of Greek Books in Alexandrian Judaism.” In Times of Transition: Judea in the Early Hellenistic Period. Sylvie Honigman, Christophe Nihan, and Oded Lipschits, eds. Mosaics 1: Studies in Ancient Israel. University Park, PA: Penn State/Eisenbrauns/Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, 2021, 241–251.

 “The Letter of Aristeas and the Place of the Septuagint in Alexandrian Judaism.” In Alexandria—Hub of the Hellenistic World. Benjamin Schliesser et al., eds. WUNT 460. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021, 229–244.

 “Seeing is Believing: The Travelogue in the Letter of Aristeas.” In NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion 75 (2021): 161–176.

 “‘With a spirit of understanding’ (Sir 39:6): Spirit and Inspiration in the Wisdom of Ben Sira.” In The Spirit Says: Inspiration and Interpretation in Israelite, Jewish, and Early Christian Texts. Ronald Herms, John R. Levison, and Archie T. Wright, eds. Ekstasis 8. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2021, 149–165.

 “‘Time is on My Side’: Concepts of Time and Group Identity in Early Jewish Literature.” In Notions of Time in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature. Stefan Beyerle and Matthew J. Goff, eds. DCLS. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2021, 19–41.

 “Unbridled Libido: Ben Sira and the Billy Graham Rule.” In Testing and Temptation in Second Temple Jewish and Early Christian Texts. Daniel Smith and Loren Stuckenbruck, eds. WUNT 2.519. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 171–185.2020

 “Wisdom Literature.” In Early Judaism and Its Modern Interpreters: Second Edition. Matthias Henze and Rodney Werline., eds. Atlanta: SBL, 2020, 437–460.   

 “The Persian Glosses and the Text of Manuscript B Revisited.” In Discovering, Deciphering and Dissenting: Ben Sira Manuscripts after 120 Years. James K. Aitken, Renate Egger-Wenzel, and Stefan C. Reif, eds. ISDCL Yearbook. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2019, 125–145.

 “The Pseudepigrapha within and without Biblical Studies.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Fifty Years of the Pseudepigrapha Section at the SBL. Matthias Henze and Liv Ingeborg Lied, eds. SBLEJL 50. Atlanta: SBL, 2019, 133–156.

 “Aristeas, Letter of.” In T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism. Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Daniel M. Gurtner, eds. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2019, 1.109–110.

 “Ben Sira.” In T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism. Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Daniel M. Gurtner, eds. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2019, 1.130–133.

 “The Septuagint as a Hellenistic Greek Text.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 50 (2019) 497–523.

 “The Wisdom of Ben Sira or Sirach, Lead Article.” In The Textual History of the Hebrew Bible, Vol 2B. Deuterocanonical Literature. Matthias Henze and Frank Feder, eds. Leiden: Brill, 2019, 187–198.

 “Ben Sira.” In The Oxford Classical Dictionary Fifth Edition. Sander Goldberg, ed. Oxford University Press, 2018. [DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.8128]

 “Sirach, Introduction and Notes.” In The Oxford Annotated Bible Fifth Edition. Michael Coogan, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

 “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Study of the Ancient World.” In T & T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Charlotte Hempel and George J. Brooke, eds. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2018, 216–227.

 “A Character in Search of a Story: The Reception of Ben Sira in Early Medieval Judaism.” In ‘Wisdom Poured Out Like Water’: Studies in Jewish and Christian Antiquity in Honor of Gabriele Boccaccini. J. Harold Ellens et al., eds. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2018, 377–395.

 “The Problem of the Hyphen and Jewish/Judean Ethnic Identity: The Letter of Aristeas, the Septuagint, and Cultural Interactions.” In Strength to Strength: Essays in Honor of Shaye J. D. Cohen, Michael Satlow, ed. Brown Judaic Studies. Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 2018, 115–135.