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Professor Sarah J. K. Pearce Bachelor of Divinity (University of London); DPhil (University of Oxford); FRHistS

Ian Karten Professor and Head of the School of Humanities

Professor Sarah J. K. Pearce's photo

Professor Sarah J. K. Pearce is an Ian Karten Professor of History at the University of Southampton.

I am currently a member of the University's Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations.

My research interests are primarily in the reception and interpretation of traditions of the Bible in the Second Temple period, and, more generally, in the culture and society of Jews in the Hellenistic world and the early Roman Empire. My current research focuses primarily on the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, and the ways in which his work as an interpreter of the Greek Bible opens up new perspectives on the world of first-century Alexandria and its Jewish and non-Jewish communities. A major part of my current research involves the preparation of a new English translation and commentary on Philo's On the Decalogue for the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series.

Together with Professor Tessa Rajak, I was co-director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council project on the ‘Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World' (2001-2006). I am currently a collaborator on an AHRC project based at the University of Oxford on ‘The Reception of Josephus in Jewish Culture from the Eighteenth Century to the Present'.

From 2007-2013, I served as co-chair (with Dr Ellen Birnbaum,) of the Philo of Alexandria Seminar and its annual meetings at the North American Society of Biblical Literature.

In 2010 I was elected as President of the British Association for Jewish Studies.
I also serve as Editor (with Sacha Stern) of the Journal of Jewish Studies, and as Associate Editor (with David Runia and Gregory Sterling) of The Studia Philonica Annual.

Research interests

  • Philo of Alexandria
  • Flavius Josephus
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Exegesis of the Hebrew and Greek Bible
  • Reception history of the Bible
  • Jewish history and culture in the Second Temple period
  • Hellenistic and early Roman Egypt
  • Jewish/non-Jewish relations from antiquity to the present

I am currently writing a commentary on Philo of Alexandria's treatise, De Decalogo (On the Decalogue), itself the earliest surviving commentary on the Ten Commandments. I am responsible for producing a new English translation, introduction and commentary for the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series (ed. Gregory Sterling).

For reviews of my first monograph on Philo, The Land of the Body: Studies in Philo's Representation of Egypt (Mohr Siebeck, 2007; WUNT 208):

Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 335-338.

The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 94 (2008) 340-342.

Journal of Jewish Studies 60 (2009) 148-149.

Journal of Theological Studies 61/1 (2010) 271-273.

The Studia Philonica Annual 22 (2010) 282-286.

Research project(s)

Philo of Alexandria and the Memory of Ptolemaic Rule

History has not been kind to the memory of the Ptolemaic monarchy (305-30 BCE). Against this background, the Alexandrian Jew Philo (c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE) offers an alternative, ‘insider’ view from Egypt.

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Book Chapters

Year 1: Masada: History and Myth
Year 2: Cleopatra's Egypt
Year 3: The Bible and History (with Helen Spurling and Mark Stoyle)
Year 3: Roman Imperialism and the Jews
MA:  Jewish/non-Jewish Relations throughout the Ages (with Tony Kushner)
MA: The Jews of Egypt: from Alexander to Trajan

I welcome applications for postgraduate research in early Jewish Bible interpretation; Second Temple period literature and history; studies in Josephus, Philo of Alexandria and other ancient interpreters of biblical tradition; the reception of Jewish antiquity.

Professor Sarah J. K. Pearce
Building 65 Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/1135

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