Department of Religions and Philosophies & School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Professor Catherine Hezser

Key information

Department of Religions and Philosophies Professor of Jewish Studies Centre for Jewish Studies Member Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies Member, Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies Member
Dr Theol (Heidelberg), PhD in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York), Habilitation in Jewish Studies (Free University Berlin)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4633
Support hours
By email appointment


Prof. Catherine Hezser studied Jewish Studies, Theology and Philosophy at the universities of Muenster and Heidelberg in Germany and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. She completed her studies with a Dr. theol. (Heidelberg, 1986) and a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies (New York, 1992). After spending two years as a senior research fellow at Kings College Cambridge, (1992-94) she went to the Free University Berlin to teach and complete her Habilitation in Jewish Studies (Berlin, 1997). Afterwards she did research at the Hebrew University Jerusalem as a Yad Hanadiv - Rothberg Foundation fellow and was granted a Heisenberg Professorship by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. From 2000 to 2005 she was the Al and Felice Lippert Professor of Jewish Studies at Trinity College Dublin and the Director of the Herzog Centre for Jewish and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures. Since 2005 she has been teaching at SOAS, University of London.

SOAS Radio · SOAS Leads the Conversation: COVID-19 in UK Jewish Communities

Research interests

Prof. Hezser has distinguished herself as a major expert in the social history of Jews in Roman Palestine in late antiquity. She employs the methods and results of the social sciences and of (post-modern) literary criticism to better understand Jewish life and culture in Hellenistic and Roman times. In her many publications she examines ancient Judaism within the context of Graeco-Roman and early Christian society. Prof. Hezser is also interested in issues of modern Jewish identity and its literary expressions in Europe, America and Israel.

Prof. Hezser has participated in a variety of interdisciplinary research projects, e.g., as a senior research fellow at King's College, Cambridge (1992-94), in a project on early Judaism and Christianity with the late Prof. Keith Hopkins; at the Free University, Berlin (1994-2000), in a project on the Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman culture, initiated by Prof. Peter Schaefer. She carried out research on ancient Jewish slavery as Lady Davies Visiting Research Professor at the Hebrew University (2003). Before joining the SOAS faculty she held the Al and Felice Lippert Chair of Jewish and Near Eastern Religions and Culture at Trinity College Dublin (2000-05). She is currently editing the Routledge Handbook of Jews and Judaism in Late Antiquity and a book on Jews and Health: Tradition, History, Practice with Brill. She is currently planning new research projects on the development of the Talmud Yerushalmi in the context of Graeco-Roman  scholasticism and a comparative approach to Roman imperialism (political, legal, cultural) from the perspective of Roman Palestine and other Roman provinces. She is also involved in several international interdisciplinary projects concerning Judaism, Christianity, and Graeco-Roman culture in late antiquity.

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Professor Catherine Hezser - What is the Sun God Helios Doing in Late Antique Synagogues?

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Mr Nevsky Everett The Sacramental Character of the Cross in the Assyrian Church of the East


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