Paul V.M. Flesher




Image of Dr. Paul Flesher

Professor Flesher is an expert in the Jews and Judaism of the land of Israel during Late Antiquity, also known as the Rabbinic Period or the Roman and early Byzantine Periods. Trained as Historian of Religion, he brings approaches from Religious Studies to the texts of these periods and seeks to understand the beliefs, actions and motivations evidenced therein. He is best known for his work on the ancient Targums, translations of the books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament into Aramaic, and for his work on ancient synagogues.

Paul Flesher earned his B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Rochester in 1979, a Masters in Philosophy in Judaism in Late Antiquity from Oxford University (England) in 1982, and a PhD in the History of Judaism from Brown University in 1988.

Curriculum Vitæ

At the University of Wyoming

Dr. Flesher became the founding Director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Wyoming in 1993 and served as its head until he stepped down in 2014 (21 years). During that time the Program created a faculty, developed a B.A. in Religious Studies and became a department. Since that time, Religious Studies has become a full partner in the new Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Since 2008, Paul served as the UW director of the Saturday University lecture program, which partners with local communities to bring UW faculty out into Wyoming for talks. This popular program is now in its eleventh year and continues to expand. Visit it at[BROKEN LINK] or peruse its YouTube channel, with more than 150 lectures.

Research Activities

Paul Flesher has long been known for his work on the Targums, Jewish Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Scriptures. His literary research into the sources of the Palestinian Targums to the Pentateuch has shaped the field’s concept of the Pentateuchal Targums, including that of Targum Onqelos. His 2011 book, The Targums: A Critical Introduction (Baylor University Press), written with Bruce Chilton, constitutes the first book-length introduction to the Targums in more than a century. During the 1990s, he helped build the scholarly study of the Targums into a recognized field of its own. He was one of the leaders who founded the International Organization for Targumic Study, and served as its President for six years. He belonged to the team of scholars who established the Journal of the Aramaic Bible  (now Aramaic Studies). He has edited the book series, Studies in the Aramaic Interpretation of Scripture, since 1996, and recently brought it into closer association with the journal as Supplements to Aramaic Studies.

More recently, Professor Flesher has concentrated his research on earliest centuries of the synagogue and its role as a center of worship and society. After serving on the staff of the Huqoq Synagogue excavations, under Professor Jodi Magness, he shifted his research to unite historical evidence of ritual with the spatial evidence of excavated synagogues of northern Israel. This research enables the placement of the ritual elements into the physical features of the synagogues where these rites were originally practiced. In the last couple of years, he added the consideration of synagogue halls’ acoustic characteristics into this analysis by pioneering methods of acoustically reconstructing these ancient structures.

In summer of 2019, the University of Wyoming has become a sponsoring institution for the new archaeological excavations at Tel Abu Shusha, through Dr. Flesher. The Tel has been identified as the cavalry fortress which King Herod the Great built to protect two major trade routes, the Via Maris, and the route from his new port at Caesarea through Beth Shean to the great, Greek cities of the Decapolis. For more information, see the excavation’s website at the Jezreel Valley Regional Project (

Visit Dr. Flesher’s page at

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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