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Department of Religious Studies

College of Arts & Sciences

Paul V.M. Flesher


2015 Seymour Gitin Distinguished Professorship Award, given by the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem


B.A. University of Rochester 1979; M.Phil. Oxford University 1982; Ph.D. Brown University 1988; Professor of Religious Studies 2012, 1993.

Dr. Paul Flesher was appointed the first director of the Religious Studies Program in 1993, which became a department in 2013. He stepped down from departmental leadership in 2014 after 21 years.

His efforts to build the Program into a world religions major have since been intertwined with his activities as a teacher and a researcher. Trained as a specialist in Judaism of the Rabbinic period, Dr. Flesher has become the generalist in religion and religions at UW. He developed RELI 1000 Introduction to Religion (6 religions in 12 weeks), RELI/ENGL 4090 Film and Religion (with film expert Dr. Robert Torry), and RELI 3225 Apocalypse. At present, he regularly teaches RELI 2110 Introduction to the Old Testament, RELI 4500 Varieties of Ancient Judaism, and Film and Religion. In 2007, he and Robert Torry published Film and Religion: A Textbook (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press).

Paul Flesher has spent much of his research career in the study of the Jewish Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible known as the Targums, beginning with his Oxford M.Phil. dissertation on the Palestinian Targums to the Pentateuch. In the 1990s, he was an active participant in developing Targum Studies as a discipline, serving first as the editor of the Newsletter of Targumic and Cognate Studies and then in 1995 as a founding member of the Steering Committee of the International Organization for Targumic Study (later as president, 2001-2007). He worked with a group of European scholars to create the Journal of the Aramaic Bible (now Aramaic Studies) and serves on its Editorial Board. Shortly afterwards, he became the editor of Brill Academic Press’s series Studies in the Aramaic Interpretation of Scripture (please contact me if you would like to submit a manuscript!). His publications in this area include: Paul V.M. Flesher and Bruce Chilton, The Targums: A Critical Introduction (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011); “The Literary Legacy of the Priests? The Pentateuchal Targums of Israel in their Social and Linguistic Context,” in The Ancient Synagogue, B. Olsson and M. Zetterholm, eds. 2003; and “Targum as Scripture,” in Targum and Scripture, P.V.M. Flesher, ed. 2002. (For additional publications in this area, consult his Vita.)

Flesher’s second area of research focuses on early synagogues, from their origins into the Rabbinic period, an area in which he interacts with historians, archaeologists and text critics. Key publications in this area include: Ancient Synagogues: Historical Analysis & Archaeological Discovery 1995, edited with Dan Urman; “Rereading the Reredos: David, Orpheus, and Messianism in the Dura Europos Synagogue,” 1995; and “Prolegomenon to a Theory of Early Synagogue Development,” 2001. (For additional publications in this area, consult his Vita.) He presently leads the UW contingent to the Huqoq Excavation Project, which is excavating a Byzantine-era Jewish village near the Sea of Galilee. (To see how to participate in this dig, go here.)

Dr. Flesher has also been active in a wide range of outreach activities. In 1996, he taught UW’s first Internet-only course and since then has developed and taught a number of online courses. From 1998 to 2007, he was a founding Council Faculty member at the Western Governors University. From 1999, he has written a twice-monthly column called Religion Today; it appears in most newspapers in Wyoming, including The Casper Star-Tribune. It also appears as a blog at: Dr. Flesher helped create the Bible and Interpretation website, edited by Dr. Mark Elliott. As an associate editor, he regularly contributes essays and opinion pieces. He presently serves as UW’s coordinator for Saturday University, held in Jackson Hole, Gillette, and Sheridan, Wyoming.

Dr. Paul V.M. Flesher

Jesus Reading Scripture: Exploring the Archaeology of Worship in First-Century Synagogues
"Jesus Reading Scripture: Exploring the Archaeology of Worship in First-Century Synagogues" on Feb. 22, 2017

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