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Dr Benjamin Williams

Benjamin WilliamsLecturer in Jewish Studies 

Tel +44 (0) 20 7848 7631
Address: Dept of Theology & Religious Studies
King's College London
Room 3.36, Virginia Woolf Building,
22 Kingsway



Dr Benjamin Williams is a Lecturer in Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies. He is carrying out a three-year project on the reception of the Hebrew Bible in the Sixteenth Century entitled “Reading the Bible in the Ottoman Empire: A New Chapter in Early Modern Jewish Exegesis”.

Dr Williams studied at Oxford University where his doctoral thesis, supervised by Professor Joanna Weinberg, was entitled “Commentary on Midrash Rabba in the Sixteenth Century: The Or ha-Sekhel of Abraham ben Asher”. He then taught rabbinic and medieval Hebrew texts at Oxford and at Leo Baeck College.

In addition to early modern Jewish scholarship, Dr Williams’ research interests include midrash, kabbalah and medieval Jewish and Christian biblical exegesis.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • The reception of the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic exegesis among medieval and early modern Jews and Christians
  • Midrash
  • Medieval Jewish exegesis
  • Maimonides
  • Kabbalah
Selected publications
  • Commentary on Midrash Rabba in the Sixteenth Century: The Or ha-Sekhel of Abraham ben Asher (Oxford: OUP, 2016)
  • “The Insects and the Camel – A Case Study in the Reception of Genesis Rabba” in Jewish Quarterly Review 107 (2017), pp. 157-181.
  • Glossa Ordinaria and Glossa Hebraica – Midrash in Rashi and the Gloss” in Traditio 71 (2016), pp. 287-311.
  • “More than one way to read a Midrash: The Bodleian copy of Bomberg’s Midrash Rabba” in Mandelbrote, S. and Weinberg, J. (edd.), Jewish Texts and their Readers in Early Modern Europe(Leiden: Brill, 2016), pp. 289-311.
  • “The 1525 Rabbinic Bible and How to Read It: A Study of the Annotated Copy in the John Rylands Library” in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 92 (2016), pp. 53-72.
  • “The Venetian Edition of Midrash Rabba in Cambridge University Library” in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 15 (2015), pp. 583-594.
  • “The First Printed Books of Midrash and their Jewish and Christian Readers” in European Judaism 48 (2015), pp. 60-69.
  • “Doubting Abraham doubting God – The Call of Abraham in the Or ha-Sekhel” in Langton, D. (ed.), “Atheism, Scepticism and Challenges to Monotheism,” special issue, Melilah 12 (2015), pp. 31-42.
  • “The Ingathering of Midrash Rabba: A Moment of Creativity and Innovation” in Fishbane, M. and Weinberg, J. (edd.), Midrash Unbound: Transformations and Innovations (Oxford: Littman Library for Jewish Civilization, 2013), pp. 347-70.
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