Jeffrey H. Tigay

Jeffrey Tigay

A.M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures, Emeritus

(215) 898-6339

712 Williams Hall



Jeff Tigay, a 1995 winner of the Lindback Award for distinguished teaching, is Emeritus A.M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. From 1995-1998 he was Chair of the Jewish Studies Program. He retired in 2010 after teaching at Penn since 1971.

Jeff received his B.A. in Ancient History from Columbia, Master of Hebrew Literature and Rabbinical Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Comparative Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Yale. His specialty is the Hebrew Bible and its interpretation, particularly in its original ancient Near Eastern context.

Jeff's published works include the books: The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982), Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), You Shall Have No Other Gods. Israelite Religion in the Light of Hebrew Inscriptions (Harvard Semitic Studies/Scholars Press, 1986), The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy (1996; he recently completed a revised, Hebrew version for the Israeli commentary series Mikra Le-Yisrael published by Am Oved Publishers and Magnes Press), and a commentary on Exodus in Oxford's Jewish Study Bible (2003). He has published articles in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, the Israeli Encyclopedia Mikra'it, and various scholarly journals. The journal articles include studies of the Book of Jonah, prayer in the Bible, Moses' speech impediment, "Genesis, Science and 'Scientific Creationism,'" evaluating claims of literary borrowing, and the terms "phylacteries" and totafot. He is currently writing a full Hebrew commentary on Exodus for the above-mentioned Mikra Le-Yisrael and editing the volume on the Biblical period for The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization: Anthology of Primary Sources, Documents, Texts, and Artifacts, a ten-volume series being published by Yale University Press.

He has been a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem and of the Center for Judaic Studies at Penn and a recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

His most popular undergraduate courses were NELC 150, "Introduction to the Bible ('Old Testament')," NELC/GH 250/COML 380, "The Hebrew Bible in Translation," and, for students who read Biblical Hebrew fluently, HEBR 250, "Studies in the Hebrew Bible."

Jeff owes his dedication to Biblical studies and his love of teaching to his exposure to great teachers who showed him the profundity and uniqueness of Biblical thought, the beauty of Biblical literature, the excitement of research and how much can be discovered about the Bible with the help of archaeology and ancient languages. His greatest pleasures in teaching came from getting to know his students and sharing what he has learned with them.

Courses Taught
  • NELC 150: Introduction to the Bible (The "Old Testament")
  • NELC 250: The Bible in Translation
  • HEBR 250: Studies in the Hebrew Bible
  • HEBR 550: Book of the Bible
  • HEBR 556: Seminar in Biblical Studies