Naomi Janowitz

  • Professor of Religious Studies
  • Senior Thesis Supervisor in Religious Studies


Office: 924 Sproul

Education and Degree(s):

  • B.A. (with Honors), Brown University, Religion Major
  • M.A., Divinity School, University of Chicago, History of Religions
  • Ph.D., Department of Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago

Research Interest(s):

  • Religions of Late antiquity
  • Methods for the Study of Religion
  • Psychoanalytic Approaches to Religion

Selected Publications:

Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2002)
Magic in the Roman World (London: Routledge Press, London, 2001) The Poetics of Ascent: Theories of Language in a Rabbinic Ascent Text (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989)

Good Jews Don't: Historical and Philosophical Constructions of Idolatry, 2007 by The University of Chicago Press. 

Envy of Maternal Functions in Sacrifice Rituals in Envy and Jealousy: New Views about Two Powerful Feelings, edited by Leon Wurmser and Heidrun Jarass, New York: Analytic Press 2008 pp. 117-128

Lusting for Death: Some Unconscious Fantasies in an Ancient Jewish Martyrdom Text, in Psychoanalytic Psychology (Fall 2006) 23:4 pp. 644-653.

Do Jews Make Good Protestants?: The cross-cultural Study of Ritual, in Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity. Ed. Jacob Olupona, London: Routledge, pp. 23-36.

Rethinking Jewish Identity in Late Antiquity, in Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity, eds. Stephen Mitchell and Geoffrey Greatrex London: Duckworth 2000 pp. 205–219.

Alchemy, in Guide to the Late Antique World, eds. Peter Brown and Glen Bowersock (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Rabbis and Their Opponents: The Construction of the "Min" in Rabbinic Anecdotes Journal of Early Christian Studies 6:3 (1998) pp. 449–462.

The Common Era: Personal Reflections on Teaching Late Antique Religion, Judaism 44:4 (Fall 1995), pp. 433–34.

Re-creating Genesis: The Metapragmatics of Divine Speech, in Reflexive Language: Reported Speech and Metapragmatics, ed. J. Lucy (Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 393–405.

God’s Body: Theological and Ritual Functions of Shi’ur Komah, in People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective, ed. H. Eilberg Schwartz (SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 183–201.

Rabbinic Methods of Inference and the Rationality Debate, Journal of Religion 72:4 (October 1992), pp. 491–511 [with Andrew J. Lazarus].

The Rhetoric of Translation: Three Perspectives on Translating Torah, Harvard Theological Review 84:2 (Winter 1991), pp. 129–40.

Theories of Divine Names in Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius, History of Religions 30:4 (May 1991), pp. 359–72.

Parallelism and Framing Devices in a Late Antique Ascent Text, in Semiotic Meditation, eds. E. Mertz and R. Parmentier, (Academic Press, 1985), pp. 155–175.

Language and Ascent: Lévi-Strauss, Silverstein and Ma’aseh Merkabah, in Anthropology and the Study of Religion, eds. F. Reynolds and R. Moore (Center for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1984), pp. 213–228.

Translating Cult: Hellenistic Judaism and the Letter of Aristeas, in Seminar Papers, Society for Biblical Literature (1983), pp. 347–356.

Stephen Fine, This Holy Place: On the Sanctity of the Synagogue during the Greco-Roman Period for Christianity and the Arts (Fall 1998)

Henry Maguire ed., Byzantine Magic for Byzantine Studies/Etude byzantines (forthcoming)

Gregory Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus for Journal of Religion (October 1997) Chaim Licht, Ten Legends of the Sages: the Image of the Sage in Rabbinic Literature for Critical Reviews in Religion (1993)

M.D. Swartz, Mystical Prayer in Ancient Judaism for Hebrew Studie s (1993)

G. Nickelsburg and R. Kraft, Early Judaism and its Modern Interpreters for Catholic Biblical Quarterl y 51:3. (October 1989)

I. Zeitlin, Ancient Judaism for American Journal of Sociology 92:3 (November 1986)