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Spring 2019 · Vol. 48 No. 1 · pp. 38–48 

Mixed Metaphors in the Kingdom of God: Rhetoric of Identity and Alterity in 1 John

Andrew R. Krause

One of the dominant features of the First Letter of John is its dualism. Like the Gospel credited to the same author, this letter makes heavy use of various pairs of images to mark those in its in-group as divinely elect, whereas its enemies are not simply omitted but in binary opposition to the church. These images include light versus darkness, divergent paths, various types of spirits, and being of either divine or nefarious progeny. Most scholars have simply accepted that each of these dualistic images originated in previous, authoritative Jewish texts and were used creatively in 1 John. However, few scholars have dealt with all of these dualistic claims as a set.

In 1 John these symbols are stated in positive terms as the effects of love and the proof of eternal life in the present kingdom of God.

In this paper, I will argue that this combination of various images appearing together in 1 John is significant. These sets of imagery were all common claims to divine election and belonging within the kingdom of God in Second Temple Jewish literature, including Testaments of the {39} Twelve Patriarchs and the Qumran Community Rule, which contains all four in its opening section. I will contend that the combination of these images was not only meaningful in Jewish literature of the first centuries, but that 1 John was part of a larger discourse on divine election and alterity among different Jewish groups. In each case, the imagery points to distinctions that show whether the individual was “in” or “out” of God’s kingdom, based on their behavior.


Before analyzing the various dualistic images and metaphors, it is important to identify precisely what made these images meaningful, how we should understand them as operative in ethical discourse, and whence these images were derived. As these groups sought to communicate their identities as divinely elect communities and construct their figural universes, these images could be seen as the building blocks for such rhetorical acts.

Not surprisingly, texts that separate those who are “in” from those who are “out” will inevitably make spatial distinctions as they mark their social boundaries. Dualistic imagery serves both to illustrate and to legitimate such boundaries. Most notably in the two texts under discussion, ethical values and behavior take center stage. One particularly meaningful and productive theoretical framework to employ is the social geography of Tim Cresswell. For Cresswell, all ethical judgments are contingent upon space, which is well-illustrated by the fact that most cultures speak of bad behavior as that which is “out of place.” Actions interpreted by the local culture as transgressions are viewed as dangerous to this space and often represent attempts to change its nature. 1 The imagery associated with transgression is most often very negative: for example, garbage, pollution, impurity, and darkness are all naturally negative, spatial evaluations with ethical implications. 2 Resistance and transgression are intimately linked, so transgressing the dominant culture’s values and seeking to supplant them with another form is by definition revolutionary and will have wide-ranging spatial and political implications. In order to communicate this spatially charged election, various groups within Judaism undertook a complex discourse utilizing various theologically meaningful and dualistic symbols. Most had their origins in the Hebrew Bible, though all continued to develop as groups self-identified by using them.

The image of proper versus improper paths to walk as an evaluation of moral and theological uprightness is deeply ingrained in the Pentateuchal and Deuteronomistic traditions. It is also, by nature, spatial. King David is said to have walked with God and it is specifically said that Solomon {40} walked in the statutes of his father (1 Kgs 3:3); subsequent kings in 1–2 Kings are evaluated using this specific terminology. Perhaps more explicitly, however, Psalm 1 states that those who do not follow the path of the wicked will be truly happy. Such language continues in the Second Temple period regarding the deeds of those claiming righteousness.

In terms of the duality of light versus darkness, Isaiah 45:7 states that God created both darkness and light, and Psalm 27:1 states that God is light to those who trust in him. Such language of God as the source of light in a moral and soteriological discussion continues in later texts such as Philo of Alexandria’s On Dreams 1.75, in which God is said to be the true source and Platonic form of all lights, as perfectly expressed in his saving work on behalf of his people. Several authors in the New Testament also make heavy use of this terminology in similar dualistic and soteriological discussion: Luke 16:8, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, James 1:7. Light and darkness is in many ways the most natural imagery for dualistic valuations of morality and election. However, such light cannot exist in a vacuum but, rather, needs a space to illuminate, often referring to proper conduct within the space.

The imagery of God as father and his people as his children is likewise common in the Hebrew Bible. 3 Such language may also be found throughout the sectarian scrolls of Qumran, though here we begin to find filial relationships to God in the righteous contrasted with evil parentage for evildoers. In Matthew 5:9, peacemakers are said to be children of God.

Unlike the above three images, that of varying spirits has much less precedence in the Old Testament, though 1 Samuel 16:13–23, 18:10, and 19:9 present both holy and evil spirits taking control of individuals (David and Saul respectively). The connection between the spirit (ruach) of the person and their place in the “house of light” or “house of darkness” could even be determined through a physical examination of the person, according to 4QZodiacal Physiognomy (4Q186) found at Qumran. 4 4QIncantation 1a i 2 speaks of “spirits of controversy” vying for control in the individual’s innermost parts. However, this internalization is not present in all traditions at this time. Popular texts such as 1 Enoch and Jubilees speak of a more external reality for spirits, especially the spirits of the slain watchers as they elaborate on Genesis 6:4–6. 5 However, a hard line between internal and external spirits seems to have been less important for early Jews than for their later interpreters, as spirits seem to attack in multiple ways, whether in mind, soul, or body, all of which may be spoken of as discrete spaces.

All of the above sets of dualistic images were viewed by early Jews and Christ-believers as efficacious for claiming divine election while {41} “othering” and declaring alterity for their enemies or all outsiders. Together, these four metaphors work in harmony as the author claims divine favor. This “piling up” of scriptural metaphors is a declaration of assurance of salvation and direct participation in the kingdom of God.


Before moving directly to 1 John, however, we might note that the first four columns of the Community Rule from Qumran (1QS) contain all of the same imagery and therefore may be a good example of another claim to this same divine favor. 1QS I–IV is generally considered the latest portion of the Cave 1 Community Rule. However, this section opens the Rule text as a whole and sets the tone both in terms of laying out community organization and theology while also explaining much of the vocabulary and many of the concepts for the rest of the work. Internally, this section also shows a surprisingly high level of unity for such a chronologically-divergent text.

1QS I 1–20 acts as an introduction to both this section and the Community Rule as a whole. It states that one of the key purposes of the work is the teaching of what God loves and rejects, so that the member may keep evil at a distance. Also, they learn to “walk in perfection” and “love all the sons of light and detest all the sons of darkness.” It is noteworthy that this opening section includes clear and purposeful discussion of the dualisms of paths, progeny, and light versus darkness. While it is significant that spirits are not mentioned, Belial is explicitly identified as the antagonist, as he usually is in various texts on spirits, and many of the binaries elsewhere associated with positive spirits are mentioned in this section, for example, truth, justice, and righteousness. In terms of the figural world of this text, this section acts as an overture.

The following section, the Covenant Renewal Ceremony (I 21–III 13), is a reworking of the covenantal blessings and curses found in Deuteronomy 27. As we would expect, such a useful text in terms of spatial and ideological boundary marking is full of the dualistic building blocks of the larger section’s rhetoric of identity and alterity. The main point of the Covenant Ceremony is to mark the community’s break with the outside society. This had clear spatial and political ramifications, as the idealized symbols of this dualism were applied to the society as a whole and their figural universe was enacted through the symbolic acts of this ritual text. 6 The first explicit instance of figurative language is in the paradigmatic spatial blessing: “The priests shall bless all the men of God’s lot, who walk unblemished in all his paths” (1QS II 2–3). This passage follows immediately after the description of ritual choreography and the confession and praise that opens the ceremony, which introduces {42} the language of “crossing over into the covenant” (1QS I 18, 24). 7 The immediate movement from the coming into the covenant and walking in unblemished paths with God’s blessings is possible because the performer has their heart illuminated by God-given discernment. This imagery establishes the figural universe in a way that is consistent with the larger tradition of the Community Rule.

This language is mirrored in the first curse, 1QS II 5–6, as God is petitioned to remove all the men of Belial’s lot and “hand them over to terror.” This place of terror is immediately elaborated upon as being connected to both “the darkness of your deeds” and consignment to “the gloom of everlasting fire” in 1QS II 7. 1QS II 12 adjures the unfit member for falling over an obstacle of his own transgression, which he has placed in his own way as he walks in the darkness and stubbornness of his heart. Here we are specifically told that such an individual is “cursed by the idols that his heart reveres” (II 11). God is also implored to separate such people for evil and to cut them off from the Sons of Light because of this straying from the proper path (1QS II 16). This statement utilizes the active, spatial symbols of light on the righteous path versus the dark paths of the unrighteous as it reinforces social boundaries with real-world implications for those inside and those outside the community. In so doing, this space is protected from dangerous individuals and their transgressive behaviors, which will cause stumbling on their proverbial paths. Those who remain outside the community will of course lack all access to righteousness, just judgment, and God-given knowledge. Finally, we are told that the light of life is kept from him as he walks the paths of men (III 6–7). The in-group member, however, is cleansed and walks securely on all the paths of God “without turning aside to the right or to the left” (III 9–12). Thus, those who enter this space hypocritically are evil and dangerous because they lack the ability to understand the difference between darkness and light. 8 The writer of the Covenant Renewal Ceremony does not merely present these symbols as separate, abstract illustrations but, rather, as distinct community boundaries.

Following the Covenant Renewal Ceremony, 1QS transitions into the so-called Treatise on the Two Spirits (1QS III 13–IV 26). This text uses the notion of warring spirits to explain the good and evil of the world, and it offers a “multi-dimensional pattern of dualism” in which ethical, psychological, and modified cosmic dualism are all present. 9 However, given the redacted nature of the larger section and potentially divergent notions and deployment of the dualistic imagery, we must proceed with care.

The Treatise on the Two Spirits opens with a call for “the Instructor” to teach “all the sons of man” about the different spirits that will {43} inevitably influence their conduct. According to the text, these are the spirits of truth and deceit (III 19) or the spirits of light and darkness, all of which are capable of occupying one’s internal space. 10 However, the text states explicitly that both sides were made by the “God of Knowledge” at the very beginning of creation (III 15). Unlike the Covenant Renewal Ceremony, which categorically states that evil has dominion in the current age, III 20–21 states that the sons of light walk on paths of light because the Prince of Light has dominion over them, whereas sons of darkness have been given over to the Angel of Darkness. However, we are also told that the sons of light may be caused to fall by the spirits of darkness (III 24). According to Loren Stuckenbruck, this ambiguity stems from a more nuanced conception of this space as the author attempted to reconcile his modified cosmic dualism with ethical dualism; as such, sin placed both their bodily and communal spaces in danger. 11 This section closes with a final exhortation that darkness and light cannot walk together, that God will eventually visit judgment upon the unrighteous; and that truth will finally rise up and no longer be defiled on the paths of wickedness (IV 15–17). Following this, we are told that God will “extinguish every perverse spirit from the inward parts of the flesh” and that “like purifying waters, He shall sprinkle each with a spirit of truth” (IV 20–22). That it should end with a command for ritual washing is not at all surprising, as invading angels and spirits were consistently acknowledged as impure, polluting agents.

Thus, 1QS makes consistent use of the dominant dualistic images under consideration in order to separate the community from its enemies as it constructs a figural and narrative world in which God will eventually fully atone and save his chosen people from outsiders. This portrayal is highly nuanced, as the strictly voluntaristic nature of the community is set against its predeterministic ideal, and this fight occurs on multiple spatial planes. The view of election is thus a paradox of freely choosing while being externally chosen. 12 However, whether or not a solution exists for these contradictions, righteous members occupy a place of safety and election as their ideological and community boundaries are set.


Dualism and love are the two hallmarks of the First Letter of John. While the dominant imagery found in the Community Rule is indeed present, it is used in very different ways. This text is completely at home in and conversant with the Judaism of its day, but its stress on the primacy of Christ and his relationship to God are clear. Whereas the Community Rule sets out to teach discipline and hidden, in-group knowledge, 1 John seeks to argue that God’s love must be communicated internally and that {44} Christ-believers should hold with certainty to the belief that Christ will give them eternal life in his kingdom (1:2; 5:2–13). In order to do so, this text deploys the standard dualistic imagery of progeny from God, light, illuminated paths, and the Spirit of God.

Before commencing discussion of these sets of imagery, it is important to reckon with the fact that 1 John lacks direct reference to the “kingdom of God.” Despite this omission, the images discussed below are themselves enough to point to the inclusion of kingdom discussion due to their explicit connection to the kingdom in the Gospel of John. In John 3, the first Nicodemus narrative, Jesus answers the question of how to enter the kingdom of God by telling the Pharisee that one must be “born again” (3:6–8; i.e., begotten anew) “of the spirit” sent from God. 13 Jesus then refers to himself as the Light sent to illuminate the paths of those who are re-begotten in this way (3:16–21). However, because Nicodemus demurs, he leaves in figural and literal darkness. Likewise, the “I am” statements also include several parallels, as Jesus states, “I am the light of the world” (8:12, 9:5) and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6). Following this latter statement, Jesus promises the coming of the Spirit of God, which will indwell believers. This promise is itself followed by a warning that the current ruler of the world is coming, though he has no power over Jesus. In Jesus’s strong statements that the “ruler of the world” (a common way of speaking of Satan or Belial both in the Gospel and at Qumran, respectively) will be cast out to initiate the new kingdom, Jesus implores his hearers to walk in the light while their paths are illuminated by him (12:31–36). Thus, the defeat of the previous ruler that heralded the kingdom of God was already at hand. That the Johannine community did not speak of the kingdom is not surprising, as it was already inaugurated and present.

Following the opening of the letter, in which the author sets out the promise of eternal life for the faithful community as has been proclaimed “from the beginning,” 1 John 1:5–10 sets out to present the concept of God as not only giving the light that illuminates the path of the believer, but that he himself is the light and thus is free of all darkness. Thus, fellowship with him while they “walk in darkness” is logically impossible. However, following this, a parallel phrase is offered in which the spatial and relational focus is changed: anyone walking in the light can only act with love in the fellowship of others in the light. Thus, the imagery itself leads directly into discussion of communal space and behavior. In this text, the way of light is not intrinsic to the actions themselves but in relation to God’s own being and actions. 14 As in the Covenant Renewal Ceremony, the light on the path is God-given and speaks to moral rectitude, divine favor, and group inclusion. {45}

This imagery is taken up again in 1 John 2:8–11. Here we are given the clear eschatological statement that “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining,” which parallels the discussion of the coming end of Belial’s dominion in 1QS. As in 1QS II 11–18, this pericope goes into detail about the community member who shuns the light. In both 1QS II 12 and 1 John 2:10, the one transgressing and mistaking darkness for light is said to cause stumbling. As in 1QS III 3, this individual cannot differentiate darkness from light and is therefore a danger. However, in 2:11, this is taken a step further, as the darkness actually causes blindness in the perpetrator. 15

Following this, in 1 John 2:29–3:10, we transition to children of God versus children of the devil as the dominant imagery. 16 However, despite the change of imagery, the ethical ideal remains the same. Those who love their spiritual siblings are begotten of God, while all who sin are children of the devil (3:8). While Jesus is consistently spoken of using the language of sonship and the audience is addressed as “little children,” the community is spoken of as “children of God.” Thus, while slightly different terminology is used, a familial relationship is drawn between God, Jesus, and the community. We should be careful, however, not to mistake Jesus’s role in this section. While the members of the community have become siblings of Jesus, he remains the Christ and the one whose work allows others to be part of this family. However, we cannot merely speak of adoption, as 2:29 states that those who are righteous are begotten of God. Fraternal language drew boundaries around the group, while paternal epithets were saved for benefactors of some sort, and we should not rule out such connotations here. Conversely, all those who sin are lawless, and therefore begotten of the devil. This discussion is followed by an analogy to Cain and Abel, with each typifying one of the sets of children, one who is righteous like God, the other a murderer like the devil.

Another change in dominant imagery occurs in 1 John 4:1–6, in which the believers are told to test every spirit. Here, the spirit of God is opposed by the spirit of the antichrist (4:3), which is already among them. The spirits may be tested Christologically, as those which deny that Jesus came in the flesh are from the antichrist and false prophets (4:2–3). However, the believers are not to despair as God and his love are in them, as God himself is love (4:4–8). As in the Treatise on the Two Spirits, such language is partially internalized, with the opposing elements being both internal and external. However, unlike the Treatise, it is the positive binary that is stressed, as God is the invading agent who will show love to those who make proper confession and who love their coreligionists. 17 Throughout the epistle, God and his agents are said to provide light, filial love, and all manner of support to those {46} who love their congregational family and confess Christ as they have been authoritatively taught, while the agents of the devil are said to work continually against them and to sow discord and deceit. Here, the Holy Spirit is said to be given to the in-group, once again in a spatially internal manner (4:13–16).

In 1 John 5:1–5, the Spirit of Truth is both the source and guarantor of truth as the one who gives testimony; the Spirit is both the object of belief and the interior witness to (or active agent of) the belief and the resultant actions of the believer. 18 However, 5:6–12 adds two other criteria: blood and water. According to 5:7, all three of these elements testify accurately to the work and person of Christ. Not surprisingly, several scholars have considered this language sacramental, though this is vague at best. 19 Smalley makes the novel suggestion that the water and blood represent the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly ministry, which are the guarantors of salvation. 20 However, if this text is located in the intra-Jewish discourse of election, the dualistic mention of spirits often leads to a prescription of lustral water in this discussion, as we saw in 1QS IV 21. Furthermore, in 1:7 we are told specifically that the blood of Christ cleanses the believer from all sin. As stated earlier, the primary criterion for abiding in God and possessing the positive elements of all four images is proper behavior and sinlessness. Thus, the work of the Spirit, the blood of Jesus, and being cleansed from impure spirits would all point to participation within the elect community and ultimately the kingdom of God.

Both the internal space of the individual believer and their conduct in the communal space are at the center of the discussion of community boundaries in 1 John. Such protection of the believer’s internal space is explicitly mentioned in 5:18, which states that those born of God do not sin because they are protected. Such space is protected from sin and transgression, which naturally place both their bodily and community space in danger. This notion fits well with the explicitly spatial apotropaic prayer traditions of Second Temple Judaism.

Thus, throughout 1 John, discussion of God-given light, proper paths, divine progeny, and appropriate spirits are combined in order to present the Johannine community, in both their communal and figural spaces, as God’s true elect people. The text continually tells us that improper behavior is entirely “out of place” in the kingdom and its spaces, and therefore the guarantor of being cast out of the community’s space.


Contrary to past studies on the imagery of 1 John, I have advocated for the study of the various dualistic metaphors as a group, that they be understood as relating directly to the ongoing discourse regarding divine {47} election in early Judaism and among the earliest Christ-believers, and that this discourse has legitimate implications for the community spaces under discussion. 1QS I–IV provides an especially apt comparison, as it is a short, distinct section within the Rule text. Other early Jewish texts contain all four of the images discussed—for example, the Qumran Hodayot or the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs—though no other text uses these images with a similar level of interplay in such a compact composition. These scripturally derived, diffuse, and remarkably spatial images are the building blocks of such an argument, as they both provide a rhetoric of election and construct spaces of election in their figural universes. 1 John utilizes these standardized symbols to present both the proof and the implications of divine election in the ethical communal behavior of the members of the community. In 1 John, all of these symbols are stated in predominantly positive terms as the effects of love and the proof of eternal life in the present kingdom of God. The community space of the Johannine Community is thus defined and marked by love. Conversely, 1QS I–IV tends to use these symbols in much more negative, even coercive, terms as the community used them in various disciplinary and afflictive texts with punitive connotations. This symbolic boundary marking had concrete implications.


  1. Tim Cresswell, In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 37–59.
  2. Cresswell, 37–42.
  3. For example, 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7, 89:26; Deut 14:1–2; Hos 11:1–7.
  4. Mladen Popović, Reading the Human Body: Physiognomics and Astrology in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Hellenistic-Early Roman Period Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 47.
  5. However, even in these texts and the wider Jewish literary tradition, we are told that evil spirits must be removed before new ones may be given (see Jub. 12:19–20; Aramaic Levi Document). For further discussion of the difference between internal and external spirits, see Miryam T. Brand, Evil Within and Without: The Source of Sin and Its Nature as Portrayed in Second Temple Literature (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013), 205–15.
  6. See Andrew R. Krause, “Community, Alterity, and Spatiality in the Qumran Covenant Curses,” Dead Sea Discoveries 25, no. 2 (2018): 217–37.
  7. Regarding the use of the conquest language of crossing over into the covenant, Collins compares this to the same language being used throughout 4QMMT. John J. Collins, Scriptures and Sectarianism (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 234. Furthermore, this sequence of praise, confession, Aaronic blessing, and curse is also found in Ezra 9, Neh 9, Dan 9, and Bar 1:15–3:8. See Carol A. Newsom, The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing {48} Identity and Community at Qumran (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 119–20.
  8. Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, “Evil, Dualism, and Community: Who/What Did the Yahad Not Want to Be?” in Dualism in Qumran, ed. Géza G. Xeravits (New York: T & T Clark International, 2010), 121–47 (esp. 126).
  9. Jörg Frey, “Different Patterns of Dualistic Thought in the Qumran Library,” in Legal Texts and Legal Issues, ed. Moshe Bernstein, et al. (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 289–95; Collins, Scriptures, 182–83.
  10. It should be noted that in III 14 we find an indeterminate number of spirits possible (“all kinds of spirits”). See Mladen Popović, “Anthropology, Pneumatology, and Demonology in Early Judaism: The Two Spirits Treatise (1QS 3:13–4:26) and Other Texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Dust of the Ground and Breath of Life (Gen 2:7)—The Problem of a Dualistic Anthropology in Early Judaism and Christianity, ed. Jacques T. A. G. M. van Ruiten and George H. van Kooten (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 58–98 (esp. 71–72).
  11. Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The Interiorization of Dualism within the Human Being in Second Temple Judaism,” in Light Against Darkness, ed. Armin Lange, et al. (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011), 145–68, (esp. 165–66).
  12. See Markus Bockmuehl, “Grace, Works, and Destiny: Salvation in Qumran’s Community Rule (1QS/4QS),” in The World and the World to Come: Soteriology in Early Judaism, ed. Daniel M. Gurtner (New York: T & T Clark International, 2013), 229–61.
  13. Craig Koester is correct to note the ongoing vagueness in the Greek of this passage in which “Spirit” and “a spirit” are continually ambiguated. See Craig R. Koester, The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 138–39.
  14. See Judith M. Lieu, I, II, & III John (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2008), 54. Cf. Marshall's more psychological reading, in which this “light of truth” first makes one conscious of sin, which must be dealt with if one wants to remain in the light. Marshall does away with the logical loop/paradox by saying that because God is the one who can take away sin, he is able to give the light. I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978), 111–12. However, this rationalization is unnecessary and forces anachronistic theologies on a text which seems to cultivate an openness of meaning. Cf. also Smalley, who argues that the light in 1:5–7 should be understood in both the intellectual sense as truth and in the moral sense as proper practice, with darkness as its antonym. Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, WBC 51 (Waco, TX: Word, 1984), 19–20.
  15. See Lieu, I, II, III John, 83. Lieu, however, draws an unconvincing parallel with 1QS IV 11.
  16. For 1QS parallels, see Hans-Josef Klauck, Der Erste Johannesbrief (Zürich: Benzinger, 1991), 300.
  17. See Judith M. Lieu, The Theology of the Johannine Epistles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 13.
  18. Urban C. von Wahlde, The Gospel and Letters of John, vol. 3, Commentary on the Three Johannine Letters (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), 192.
  19. See Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 178, for a short survey of attempts.
  20. Smalley, 178.
Andrew Krause is currently Research Associate & Associate Editor in the Prayer in the Ancient World project through the Department of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Previously, he was Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Exzellenzcluster “Religion und Politik” and Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany. He is a graduate of Columbia Bible College (BA, Biblical Studies), Regent College (MCS, Old Testament), and McMaster University (PhD, Early Judaism & Christian Origins).

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