Maren R. Niehoff is Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, and member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Trained at the Hebrew University, the Free University in Berlin as well as Oxford University and Harvard University, she specializes in interdisciplinary research in Hellenistic and rabbinic Judaism as well as early Christianity and Greco-Roman culture.
She was awarded the Leopold-Lucas Prize 2022 and initiated a research group at Scholion (HUJI, 2022-5), on the topic "The Emergence of Local Elites in Late Antiquity: between West and East". Niehaoff was awarded a Israel Science Foundation Grant for a research project on “Hellenistic Judaism in Late Antique Palaestina. Beyond Rabbinic Sources” (2021-4). In September 2021 she will deliver an especially endowed lecture at the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung in Munich. During Lent Term 2023 she will be a Beaufort Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University. Since 2019 she is the head of an exploration at Chronoi, the interdisciplinary Einstein center in Berlin, treating dimensions of time in Late Antique forms of Jewish identity. During the winter semester of 2019-20 she served as the first Martin Hengel Fellow at Tübingen University. During the academic year of 2017-8, she was the co-head of a research group at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies.
Current Research Projects:
Philo of Alexandria
Niehoff currently works on a commentary on Philo’s treatise “Every Good Man is Free” for the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series at Brill. A forthcoming essay shows that this treatise was written in the context of Philo's embassy to Rome and presents Greek philosophy and Judaism in a Roman key. A first draft of the commentary on Probus 98-130, which deals with Greco-Roman poets and prose-writers, points to Philo's original contribution to vibrant Greco-Roman debates. Niehoff's work on the Probus benefits from her earlier work on Philo. Her two recent monographs, Bible Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria (Cambridge 2011) and Philo of Alexandria. An Intellectual Biography (New Haven 2018, German translation 2019, Hebrew translation 2021, French and Italian translations forthcoming) won the Polonsky Prize for Originality and Creativity in the Humanistic Disciplines in 2011 and 2019, respectively. The Biography was also a Finalist for the Jordan Schnitzer Prize of the Association of Jewish Studies in 2019. As a Martin Hengel Fellow at Tübingen, she organizes an international conference on “Philo and Other Greek-Speaking Authors in the Roman Empire” (postponed due to Covid-19 to May 2022, Tübingen). Earlier on she edited two volumes of Philo’s works in Hebrew and thus completed the Hebrew translation of his works extant in Greek. One of the forthcoming volumes of "Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought" (in Hebrew) will be dedicated to Philo.
Hellenistic Judaism in Late Antiquity (especially in Caesarea)
Following several articles, Niehoff has embarked on a new project of reconstructing Hellenistic Judaism in Late Antique Palaestina, which flourished next to rabbinic literature and is not attested in independent texts. This project involves juxtaposing diverse sources from different religious backgrounds, which have thus far been read in isolation due to disciplinary and linguistic boundaries. A major new source are Origen's newly discovered homilies on Psalms (Ms Graecus 314 Staatsbibliothek Munich), which have not yet been translated into any modern language. Niehoff has already used them in some recent articles to reconstruct important aspects of Late Antique Jewish and pagan culture in Caesarea. She will pursue this project within the framework of the Scholion research group on late Antique elites.
Paul's Letter to the Romans in Context
Following several articles, Niehoff interprets Romans in the context of other Greek-speaking texts addressing Roman audiences. Philo of Alexandria serves her as a key to understand the Roman features of Paul's use of the Bible and Greek philosophy. This study contributes to our understanding of the Parting of the Ways and the emergence of the Second Sophistic.
Niehoff serves as the editor of the Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought (in Hebrew) and has dedicated the next three issues to special themes: "Health, Environment and Body Care", "Philo of Alexandria", and "Debate and Conformity in Judaism". She is a co-editor of the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum (RAC) and has rewritten the original article on Antisemitism for the forthcoming digital version, pointing to a contamination of the early volumes of the lexicon with Nazi ideology. She has moreover edited several interdisciplinary collections of articles: Self, Self-Fashioning and Individuality in Late Antiquity (Tübingen 2019, together with Joshua Levinson); Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real (Tübingen 2017), Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters (Leiden 2012), Abrahams Aufbruch. Philon von Alexandria, De Migratione Abrahami (SAPERE 30, Tübingen 2017, together with Reinhard Feldmeier); and “And this is For Yehuda”. Studies Presented to Our Friend, Professor Yehuda Liebes on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (in Hebrew; Jerusalem 2012, together with Ronit Meroz and Jonathan Garb). Niehoff is the founding editor of the monograph series Culture, Religion and Politics in the Greco-Roman World (Tübingen) and serves on the editorial boards of Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism (Tübingen) and Religion in the Roman Empire (Tübingen).
Niehoff’s work has been supported by research grants from numerous institutions, among them the Israel Science Foundation, the Einstein Center Chronoi in Berlin, the German Israeli Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation, and the Thyssen Foundation.