Benjamin Williams


James Mew Lecturer in Rabbinic Hebrew; Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Faculty Address:

Oriental Institute / OCHJS


Research Interests:

  • Midrash
  • Medieval and early-modern Jewish exegesis of the Hebrew Bible
  • Rabbinic exegesis in medieval Christian commentaries

Subjects taught:

  • Rabbinic texts
  • Medieval Jewish exegesis
  • Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah

Current Projects:

  • Reading the Bible in the Ottoman Empire: A New Chapter in Early Modern Jewish Exegesis
  • Derash on the Cantillation Marks in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period
  • The Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic Manuscripts of Edward Pococke

Selected Publications:

  • “The Pococke Collection” in Merchán-Hamann, C. and Abrams, R. (edd.), Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries (Bodleian: Oxford, 2020), pp. 67-88.
  • “The Insects and the Camel – A Case Study in the Reception of Genesis Rabba” in Jewish Quarterly Review 107 (2017), pp. 157-181.
  • Commentary on Midrash Rabba in the Sixteenth Century: The Or ha-Sekhel of Abraham ben Asher (Oxford: OUP, 2016).
  • 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.
Ben Williams