David H. Aaron, Rabbi, Ph.D.

Contact Information

(513) 487-3265

Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation


Rabbinical Program, Cincinnati; School of Graduate Studies, Cincinnati
Academic Field: 
Bible and Cognate Studies

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David H. Aaron has been Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, since 1998. He is also the Director of Scholarly Publications.

He earned a doctorate from the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University; he holds Rabbinic Ordination from HUC-JIR (Cincinnati ‘83). Prior to coming to HUC-JIR, Aaron taught Bible and Rabbinic Literature in the Religion Department of Wellesley College (1991-98) and Biblical Studies at Boston’s Hebrew College (1987-91).

Professor Aaron is the author of Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and Divine Imagery (2001); Etched in Stone: the Emergence of the Decalogue (2006); and Genesis Ideology (forthcoming, 2013). He is presently completing a commentary on Pirke Avot called Subversive Principles: Reflections on a Foundational Text. As a fellow at the Frankel Institute of the University of Michigan, Aaron began work on a large study that blends theories of complexity and pan-computationalism with a philosophy of causality in history. This interdisciplinary study, tentatively titled, Approaching Daybreak: On Complexity and Historical Causality, will entail two volumes; the first will deal specifically with complexity theory and historiography, the second with the ideology of Hebrew language usage in Judaism from the biblical period through the writings of Abraham ibn Ezra.

Aaron’s scholarly articles have appeared in a variety of journals, including Harvard Theological Review, Journal of the Academy of Religion, The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Approaches to Ancient Judaism, Hebrew Union College Annual, and AJS Review. He is a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Midrash (2005); the Blackwell Companion to Judaism (2004), and the Encyclopedia of the Hebrew Language and Linguistics (2010).

Selected Publications and Edited Works

Subversive First Principles: A Modern Commentary on the Mishnah Tractate Avot [Early 2014]

Genesis Ideology [forthcoming, 2013]

Translating the Essence of Piety [a novel, currently under review]

Etched in Stone: The Emergence of the Decalogue. New York: T & T Clark, 2006

Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and Divine Imagery. Leiden: Brill, 2001

Reflections on a Cognitive Theory of Culture and a Theory of Formalized Language for Late Biblical Studies, in Ehud Ben Zvi and Diana Edelman, eds., Bringing the Past to the Present in the Late Persian and Early Hellenstic Period: Images of Central Figures (Sheffield Academic Press, 2012).

The Ruse of Zelophehad’s Daughters, Hebrew Union College Annual (2009) 1-38.

Language and Midrash, Encyclopedia of Midrash: Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism.  Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery-Peck, eds. 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005) 400-11.

Pre-Modern Biblical Interpretation and the Challenge of New Historicism, The Forum, Society of Biblical Literature, June 2004 (http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=260).

Envisioning a Liberal Judaism and its Ethics of Reading (2003), CCAR–HUC-JIR Joint Commission for Sustaining Rabbinic Education, pp.1-32; on-line http://huc.edu/jointcomm/programs/sefirah/sefirah2003/confirm/.

The First Loose Plank. On the Rejection of Reason in the Pittsburgh Principles of 1999, CCAR Journal (Fall 2001) 87-116.

Early Rabbinic Exegesis on the So-Called Hamitic Myth. Journal of the American Academy of  Religion 63,4 (1995) 721-759.  Rejoinder, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65,1 (1996) 189-192, on Responses by Steven McKenzie and Donald Matthews (183-188).

Imagery of the Divine and the Human: On the Mythology of Genesis Rabba 8 §1. The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 5 (1995) 1-62.