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Naftali Cohn, PhD

Professor, Religions and Cultures
Graduate Program Director, MA Religions and Cultures; Judaic Studies, Religions and Cultures

Naftali Cohn, PhD
Office: S-R 105 
R Annex,
2050 Mackay
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5734
Website(s): Academia Page

Naftali Cohn studies the texts and culture of Jews in Classical to Late Antiquity, focusing especially on the group known as the rabbis, who produced texts that became canonical and foundational for subsequent Jewish literature and practice. His research centres on the late-second or early-third century law collection known as the Mishnah, which he reads using the critical lenses of ritual theory, narratology, memory/historiography, feminist theory, and material culture of the Roman period. His publications include The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).


PhD (University of Pennsylvania)

Research interests

Mishnah, Judaism in Late Antiquity (Roman Period), Rabbinic Literature , Cultural History, Textual Interpretation, Narrative Theory, Ritual Theory, Feminist Interpretation of Ancient Texts, Ancient Gender Construction, Jewish (Judaean) Identity



Field areas

Religions and Cultures in Late Antiquity
Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Teaching activities

Current Graduate Classes

Food, Sex, and Death in Judaism (Winter 2020)
Method and Theory in Religions and Cultures (Fall 2019)
Introduction to the Talmud (Fall 2017)

Current Undergraduate Classes

Moses Throughout the Ages (Rebels, Leaders, Saints) (Winter 2020)
Sex, Gender, and Jews (Winter 2019)

Selected publications

History,Memory, and Jewish Identity. Co-edited with Ira Robinson and Lorenzo DiTommaso. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2015. 
The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

“Heresiology in the Third Century Mishnah: Arguments for Rabbinic Legal Authority and the Complications of a Simple Concept.” Harvard Theological Review 108 (2015): 508–529.

“Sectarianismin the Mishnah: Memory, Modelling Society, and Rabbinic Identity.” In History, Memory, and Jewish Identity,edited by Ira Robinson, Naftali S. Cohn, and Lorenzo DiTommaso. Boston:Academic Studies Press, 2015, 31–54.     

“What to Wear: Women’s Adornment and Judean Identity in the Third Century Mishnah.”In Dressing Judeans and Christians inAntiquity, edited by Kristi Upson-Saia, Alicia J. Batten, and Carly Daniel-Hughes, 21–36. Surrey: Ashgate, 2014.      

"Domestic Women: Constructing and Deconstructing a Gender Stereotype in the Mishnah." In From Antiquity to the Postmodern World: Contemporary Jewish Studies in Canada, edited by Daniel Maoz and Andrea Gondos, 38-61. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.

"When Women Confer with Rabbis: On Male Authority and Female Agency in the Mishnah." Journal of Textual Reasoning, 6,2 (March 2011) online journal

"Rabbis as Jurists: On the Representation of Past and Present Legal Institutions in the Mishnah." Journal of Jewish Studies, 60.2 (Fall 2009): 245-263.

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