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Celia Deutsch

Research Scholar




Celia Deutsch taught at Barnard College from 1985 to 2012. She is now Research Scholar in the Religion Department. Professor Deutsch's research focuses on early Jewish and Christian social and religious/intellectual history. She draws on literary and cultural criticism, as well as the insights of the social sciences, to examine ancient sources. Her book Lady Wisdom, Jesus, and the Sages explored ways in which early Christian teachers used a female metaphor to conceptualize the role of Jesus and their own status as teachers in their community.

Deutsch is currently working of Scholars and Seers: Text Work and Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity. This work examines how text work (reading, writing, interpretation, and teaching) was used as a site of religious experience and how claims to such experience were used to bolster authority claims. The analysis utilizes the insights of literacy, ritual, and performance theory.

Professor Deutsch is active in numerous professional organizations and is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature’s group on Early Jewish and Early Christian Mysticism. She is on the steering committee for the group on Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity.

Professor Deutsch is engaged in interreligious dialogue at the national, international, and local levels. Her involvements include serving as consultant to the Interfaith Center of New York, leadership for programming in inter-religious and inter-ethnic relations for Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church and East Midwood Jewish Center (Flatbush, Brooklyn).  She is a Sister of Our Lady of Sion and recently became the coordinator of her order’s international team for Jewish-Christian Relations. This new work will include projects in interreligious dialogue and text work in a variety of international contexts.

  • B.A., Trinity College (Washington, D.C.)
  • M.A., Ph.D., St. Michael's College, University of Toronto

  • Early Judaism
  • Early Christianity
  • Comparative study of mysticism

Toward the Future: Essays on Catholic-Jewish Relations in Memory of Rabbi Leon Klenicki. Ed. with Eugene Fisher and James Rudin. Stimulus Series. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, forthcoming in 2012.

“The Interpreter as Intertext: Origen’s First Homily on the Canticle of Canticles,” in Ambiguities, Complexities, and Half-Forgotten Adversaries: Crossing Boundaries in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Ed. By Andrea Lieber and Kimberly Stratton. Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplement Series. Leiden and Boston: Brill, forthcoming in 2012.

 “Aseneth: Ascetical Practice, Vision and Transformation,” in With Letters of Light: Studies in Early Jewish Apocalypticism and Mysticism in Honour of Rachel Elior, ed. by Vita Daphna Arbel and Andrei Orlov. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, forthcoming in 2010.

"Text Work and Religious Experience: Philo and Clement," in Experientia, Vol.1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity, ed. Frances Flannery, Colleen Shantz, Rodney Werline (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008)

"The Therapeutae, Text Work, Ritual, and Mystical Experience," in Paradise Now: Essays on  Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism, ed. A. DeConick (Boston, Leiden and Atlanta: Brill and The Society of Biblical Literature, 2006)

"Ancient Rivalries and New Testament Interpretation: An Example from the Acts of the Apostles," in Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation, ed. M. Boys (Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 2005)

"Jesus As Wisdom: A Feminist Reading of Matthew's Wisdom Christology," in The Feminist Companion to the New Testament; Matthew and Mark, ed. A. J. Levine and V. Phillips (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001)

"Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism: What Are We Talking About?" in SBL Seminar Papers (2001)

"The Apostolic Decree in Acts: a Response to Professor Alan Segal," in Reinterpreting Tradition and Revelation: Jews and Christians in Conversation, ed. H. G. Perelmuter and J. Pawlikowski (Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 2000)

"The Transfiguration: Vision and Social Setting in Matthew's Gospel (Matt 17:1-9)," in Putting Body and Soul Together: Essays in Honor of Robin Scroggs, ed. G. F. Snyder, A. Brown, and V. Wiles (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997)

Lady Wisdom, Jesus, and the Sages: Metaphor and Social Context in the Matthean Community (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1996)

"Torah, Jesus and Discipleship in the Gospel of Matthew," SIDIC 24 (1991)

Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke: Wisdom, Torah, and Discipleship in Matthew 11:25-30. JSNT Supp 18(Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987.

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