Biblical studies, folklore
Rachel Havrelock is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained in Hebrew Bible, Rabbinics, Folklore, and Middle East Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, her research concerns three distinct areas and the overlap among them.
Her work on gender and the Bible began with a co-authored book, Women on the Biblical Road (University Press of America, 1996), that introduced the idea of a female hero pattern based on evidence from the Hebrew Bible. She elaborated on the notion of female heroism in an article, “The Myth of Birthing the Hero,” published in Biblical Interpretation in 2007 and in her commentaries in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea L. Weiss, Union of Reform Judaism Press 2007). Rachel’s recent work on female political leadership in antiquity is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Biblical Interpretation and The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies, for which Havrelock is serving as editor of the Early Judaism section.
Rachel’s book, River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line (University of Chicago Press, 2011) illustrates her distinct methodology of combining biblical studies, literary and political theory, and the politics of interpretation. River Jordan examines the long history of the Jordan as a border, as well as the moments when it was not a border. Itargues for five coexistent national myths in the Hebrew Bible and examines which of these myths have had political currency and which have been repressed. River Jordan shows how biblical interpretation impacted the formation of early Christianity and Judaism and, in more recent times, the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the spirit of River Jordan, Rachel is currently working on the political interpretation of the book of Joshua for a monograph entitled The Joshua Generation: Politics and the Promised Land.
Rachel’s work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and modern Middle East has been published in the journal National Identities and in Understanding Life in the Borderlands: Boundaries in Depth and in Motion (University of Georgia Press, 2010). Her current research in this area focuses on the oil pipeline that once ran from Kirkuk to Haifa. During a 2013 sabbatical, Rachel pursued research on the pipeline at the British National Archive, in Israeli and Jordanian archives, and by traveling the pipeline route and interviewing those living on and around it. She plans to publish this research as a book entitled Pipeline: How Oil Created the Modern Middle East and How Water Can Transform It. She is involved with efforts on the part of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) to develop a transborder ecological peace park at the Jordan River.
Her research has been supported by FLAS, the US Department of State, the UIC Institute for the Humanities, the UIC Dean’s Research Award, the American Academy of Jewish Research, and the University of Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH).
Rachel blogs for The Huffington Post and is the writer and director of the hip-hop play From Tel Aviv to Ramallah about the daily lives of young people in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She co-hosted Who Was Jesus, the Discovery Channel’s series on the historical Jesus and appears in the History Channel’s show about the book of Joshua.
“Outside the Lines: The Status of Women in Priestly Nationalism,” in Embroidered Garments: Priests and Gender in Biblical Israel. Hebrew Bible Monographs 25. Deborah W. Rooke (Ed.) Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009, pp. 89-101.
“Pioneers and Refugees: Arabs and Jews in the Jordan River Valley,” in Understanding Life in the Borderlands: Boundaries in Depth and in Motion. I. William Zartman (Ed.), Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2009.
“Book of Genesis,” in The Oxford Handbook to the Reception History of the Bible. Michael Lieb, Emma Mason & Jonathan Roberts (Eds.) New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
“Book of Joshua,” “Book of Judges,” “Book of Samuel,” “Twelve Tribes,” in The Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish History, Religion and Culture. Judith Baskin (Ed.) Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
Women on the Biblical Road
The Two Maps of Israel's Land
Havrelock, Rachel, "The Two Maps of Israel's Land," Journal of Biblical Literature 126:4 (2007): 649-667.DOWNLOAD
My Home Is Over Jordan
Havrelock, Rachel, (2007) 'My Home is Over Jordan: River as Border in Israeli and Palestinian National Mythology', National Identities, 9:2, 105-126.DOWNLOAD
Are There Witches in the Jewish Bible?
“Are There Witches in the Bible?” Guilt and Pleasure Magazine, Summer 2006, 144-147. DOWNLOAD
The Journey Within
Havrelock, Rachel. Parashat Vayetze. The Women's Torah Commentary (Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea Weiss, Eds.) New York: Union of Reform Judaism Press, 2007. DOWNLOAD