Centre for Bible, Ethics and Theology
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Holger Zellentin

Associate Professor in Jewish Studies,



Academic Positions

Since 7/2014, I have been Associate Professor in Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. Previously, I have taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union, as well as at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.


I hold 2007 Ph.D., from Princeton University, as well as a series of graduate and post-graduate degrees from Princeton University, the University of Amsterdam, and the Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg.

Expertise Summary

My research focuses on the Talmud and the Qur'an in a broad sense. I am a scholar of the religions of the Late Ancient Near and Middle East, focusing on Judaism, Christianity and Islam from the time of Alexander the Great to the early Caliphates. My current research projects include study of the Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian context and a study of the ways in which the Talmudic rabbis incorporate Christian narratives. I also work on Hellenistic Judaism and on the sociology and anthropology of ancient religion. My research has been generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Teaching Summary

Please note that I am currently on research leave.

I regularly teach courses on the theory of the study of religion, on the Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian context, as well as introductory and advanced courses on Judaism, ranging from an Introduction to Judaism through the ages to specialized courses in Hellenistic and Rabbinic Judaism.

My courses on the Qur'an focus on the cultural context of the nascent Muslim community, and more particularly how the Qur'anic community reacted to the Christian and Jewish groups it encountered.

In Jewish studies, I present all aspects of Judaism in dialog with the fascinating worlds Jews have inhabited through the ages up to contemporary Europe and Israel. Especially in my upper level classes focusing on the Talmud, I combine a historical approach with a close look at literature and archeology.

I also teach teach approaches to the study of religion, a class that approaches the phenomenon of religion from the point of view of sociology, anthropology, psychology, and post-colonial theory.

Research Summary

In the context of a British Academy Fellowship, I am currently working on the Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian context; in a longer term project made possible by the Leverhulme Trust, I am equally… read more

Selected Publications

  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., ed., 2013. Artapanus: Edition, Translation, and Commentary. Brill's New Jacoby Brill.

PhD, MRes, and MA by research supervision

I welcome applications for post-graduate studies in the fields of Late Antique religions, Talmud and Qur'an. I am open to research proposals on Jewish, Christian and early Islamic cultures focusing on any aspect of the religious history. I am currently co-supervising (with Dr. Jon Hoover) several theses on Ibn Taymiyya and on Muslim views of Jesus; past MA and PhD I have supervised focused on Hellenistic and rabbinic Jewish as well as on Qur'anic studies. Click for details on the PhD, MRes, and MA by research supervision.

I will consider any serious research proposal. In order to start a conversation, feel free to send me a drafted proposal, along with a sample of your best work. Topics of special interest include the following:

The Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian contexts

Qur'anic chronology and the history of the nascent Muslim community

Purity law in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

The development of Talmudic literature

Rabbis in the Roman and Sasanian Context

Hellenistic Judaism

Jewish texts in Christian garb, such as the Protoevangelion of James, the Gospel of Matthew, and the (Pseudo-)Clementine Homilies

Tuition fees

The normal PhD programme consists of three years of full-time study at full tuition fees or six years of part-time study at half tuition fees. The MRes and MA by research consist of one year full-time at full fees or two years part-time at half fees. Click for full-time fees.

International students should consult our International Office website and staff for further logistical and practical information on coming to Nottingham.


For information about fees and funding for both UK/EU and international students in Theology and Religious Studies click here, for a useful outside website click here.

Please pay special attending to the AHRC Midlands3Cities funding for UK/EU students. The deadline for AHRC M3C funding applications will likely be in January 2017, by which time students must have applied for a place to study and have provided two references to a university within the DTP. For full details of eligibility, funding and research supervision areas please click here.

Current Research

In the context of a British Academy Fellowship, I am currently working on the Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian context; in a longer term project made possible by the Leverhulme Trust, I am equally analyzing rabbinic reactions to the Christianization of the Roman Empire (see below, future research). I have an ongoing broader interest in Talmudic and Qur'anic literature as well as in Hellenistic Judaism, especially in Jewish texts in Christian garb and in Jewish retellings of Christian texts.

Past Research

Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Fellowship: The Qur'an's Legal Culture (2013)

The project seeks to assess the history of thought and jurisprudence throughout late antique Judaism and Christianity that helped prepare the Qur'an's unique legal culture. The research project includes a collaboration with the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme at the Faculty of the Divinity at the University of Cambridge, which housed a workshop on "Jesus and the Law in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam;" a collaboration with the Quran seminar at the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame; and a conference titled "Return to the Origins: the Qur'an's Reformation of Judaism and Christianity," at the University of Nottingham. Related publications include a monograph on the the Qur'an's legal culture, the publication of the conference proceedings, and contributions to the a collaborative Quran Commentary edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds and Mehdi Azaiez.

Future Research

British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship: The Qur'an between Judaism and Christianity (2016)

Translating the rhetoric and worldview of the Qur'an to the Western public in clear and accurate terms remains prerequisite to advancing two central debates of our time: how Western religious and secular self-identities relate to Islam, and how religious minorities are perceived in the UK. This research project on the Qur'an between Judaism and Chrisitanity tackles this translational challenge by combining the (usually separate) fields of Qur'anic, Jewish, and Christian studies.

It pursues two interdependent goals. It formulates a new synthesis of how the Qur'an relates to the Judaism and Christianity of its time. It also shows how our historical understanding of the Qur'an enhances and is in turn enhanced by knowledge of the Late Antique religions in its penumbra, especially Palestinian rabbinic Judaism and Syriac Christianity.

This project will contribute to the public debate on religious self-identity; assist Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious organisations seeking to redefine their relationship to each other; and inform educators and local and national policy makers dealing with ethno-religious interaction and conflict.

The Philip Leverhulme Prize (2015-2018)

In addition to my current work on the Qur'an in its Jewish and Christian Context (see above), a 2014 Philip Leverhulme Prize has enabled me to pursue further research in Jewish and Qur'anic Studies. Current topics on the Qur'an include the literary structure of the Qur'an, its chronology, and the relevance of typology in Christian, Jewish, and Qur'anic thought. In Talmudic studies, I am pursing a long-term research project on the ways in which the Rabbis of Palestine reacted to the Christianization of the Late Roman Empire in the context of which I am co-organizing (with Daniel Weiss and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal) a Conference on Talmud and Christianity at the University of Cambridge.

  • 2017. Judaeo-Christian Legal Culture and the Qur’ān. In: HILALI, A. and BURGE, S., eds., Contemporary Qur’anic Studies Oxford University Press.
  • ZELLENTIN, H. M., 2016. In: REYNOLDS, G, AZAIEZ, M., TESEI, T. and ZAFER, H.M., eds., The Qurʾan Seminar Commentary: A Collaborative Analysis of 50 Select Passages De Gruyter. 44-452 (In Press.)
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2016. Aḥbār and Ruhbān: Religious Leaders in the Qur’ān in Dialogue with Christian and Jewish Literature. In: NEUWIRTH, A., ed., Qur’anic Studies at the University of Chicago Routledge. 258-89 (In Press.)
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2016. Jewish Dreams Between Roman Palestine and Sasanian Babylonia: Cultural and Geographic Borders in Rabbinic Discourse (yMa‘aser Sheni 55c, 15-22 and bBerakhot 56a-b). In: WEISSENRIEDER, A., ed., Borders: Terms, Performances and Ideologies Mohr Siebeck. 419-57 (In Press.)
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2016. ʾaḥbār und ruhbān: Religiöse Leitfiguren im Koran in Dialog mit christlicher und rabbinischer Literatur. In: SCHMIDT, N., SCHMID, N. K. and NEUWIRTH, A., eds., Episteme in Bewegung: Beiträge zu einer transdisziplinären Wissensgeschichte Harrassowitz. 125-65 (In Press.)
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2016. Review of Christoph Ochs, Matthaeus Adversus Christianos Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 67, 148-51
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2015. The Rabbis on (the Christianization of) the Imperial Cult: Mishna and Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah 3.1 (42b, 54 - 42c, 61). In: HEZSER, C., ed., Jewish Art in its Late Antique Context 319-55
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2015. Review of Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Early Christian Monastic Literature and the Babylonian Talmud Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations. 10,
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., ed., 2013. Artapanus: Edition, Translation, and Commentary. Brill's New Jacoby Brill.
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2013. Jerusalem fell after Betar: the christian Josephus and rabbinic memory. In: BOUSTAN, R.S., HERRMANN, K., LEICHT, R., REED, A.Y. and VELTRI, G., eds., Envisioning Judaism: studies in honor of Peter Schäfer on the occasion of his seventieth birthday Mohr Siebeck. 319-367
  • ZELLENTIN, H. M., 2013. Jesus and the Tradition of the Elders: Originalism and Traditionalism in Early Judean Legal Theory. In: IRICINSCHI, E., JENNOT, L., TOWNSEND, P. and DENZEY LEWIS, N., eds., Beyond the Gnostic Gospels: Studies Building on the Work of Elaine H. Pagels Mohr Siebeck. 379-403
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2011. Rabbinic parodies of Jewish and Christian literature Mohr Siebeck.
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2009. Review: The Origins of Judaism: From Canaan to the Rise of Islam (Robert Goldenberg) Henoch: Studies in Judaism and Christianity from Second Temple to Antiquity. 39, 430-2
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M. AND IRICINSCHI, E., 2008. Making Selves and Marking Others: Identity and Late Antique Heresiologies. In: ZELLENTIN, H.M. AND IRICINSCHI, E., ed., Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity Mohr Siebeck. 1-27
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2008. The end of Jewish Egypt: Artapanus and the second exodus. In: GARDNER, G. and OSTERLOH, K.L., eds., Antiquity in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian pasts in the Greco-Roman world Mohr Siebeck. 27-73
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2008. Review: Avot De-Rabbi Natan: Synoptische Edition Beider Versionen (Hans-Juergen Becker and Christoph Berner) Hebrew Studies. 49, 363-365
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M. AND IRICINSCHI, E., ed., 2008. Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity Mohr Siebeck.
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2008. Review of David Goodblatt, Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism AJS (Association of Jewish Studies) Review. 32, 397-400
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2008. Margin of Error: Women, Law, and Christianity in Bavli Shabbat 116a–b. In: ZELLENTIN, H.M. AND IRICINSCHI, E., ed., Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity Mohr Siebeck. 339-363
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2007. Rabbanizing Jesus, Christianizing the Son of David: The Bavli's Approach to the Secondary Messiah Traditions. In: RIVKA ULMER, ed., Discussing Cultural Influences: Text, Context, Non-Text in Rabbinic Judaism University Press of America. 99-128
  • ZELLENTIN, H.M., 2004. How Plutarch Gained his Place in the Tosefta Zutot: Perspectives on Jewish Culture. 4, 19-28

Centre for Bible, Ethics and Theology

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5854