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Professor Stuart Weeks

Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew

Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew in the Department of Theology and Religion+44 (0) 191 33 43963


After postgraduate study at Oxford, I worked at Queen's College, Birmingham for three years, and then came to Durham in 1995. Here, my main teaching responsibility has been the second-year course in Literature and Theology of the Old Testament, which is a survey of the main types of literature set against their broader historical and cultural background. With my colleague, Prof. David Janzen, I also teach a third-year course (Issues in Old Testament Study), which looks at key areas of interest in the discipline, and I do some advanced Hebrew teaching as well. My other courses reflect personal interests outside mainstream biblical study. Having had to learn several varieties of ancient Egyptian for my doctoral work, I teach Middle Egyptian at MA level. At various points in the past, I have also taught on aspects of ancient Near Eastern literature and religion, the Septuagint and Ugaritic language.

My doctoral work was an examination of certain common claims about the origin of biblical wisdom literature, and I questioned the assumptions that this literature was associated with the professional life or education of the administrative class in Israel. This work was subsequently published as Early Israelite Wisdom (Oxford: OUP, 1994). I have continued to be interested in wisdom literature, and have written a number of articles on the subject, along with an introduction. My general understanding is that the biblical wisdom literature (although the very term has become controversial) is a type of literary discourse, which may be characterised in part by its interest in how individuals can act, or learn how to act, in a way that offers life and prosperity. Unlike many other scholars, though, I believe that this interest must be placed firmly in the context of broader Jewish religious ideas. I have argued this at length with respect to the first section of the book of Proverbs (chapters 1-9), and more generally with respect to the wisdom corpus as a whole in my Introduction to the Study of Wisdom Literature (T&T Clark, 2010). Apart from my research on wisdom literature, I also have a strong interest in text criticism, and I co-edited an important volume of textual witnesses to the book of Tobit. I have brought these interests together in a two-volume commentary on Ecclesiates, which has now appeared in the International Critical Commentary series, and research arising from this work underpins both my monograph, Ecclesiastes and Scepticism (T&T Clark, 2012) and a bibliography on Ecclesiastes, The Making of Many Books (Eisenbrauns, 2014). I have also written on several other areas, and have a general interest in questions of history and early Jewish identity.

Research interests

  • biblical wisdom literature
  • relationship between biblical and ancient Egyptian literature
  • text criticism, esp. Septuagint

Esteem Indicators

  • 2000: Editorial: Co-editor International Critical Commentary: Apocrypha Series
  • 2000: Editorial: Editorial board of the Hebrew Bible Monographs series from Sheffield Phoenix Press.
  • 2000: External examiner: External examiner for universities of London and St Andrews.
  • 2000: Publication: I have been contracted to write the commentary on Ecclesiastes for the prestigious International Critical Commentary series.
  • 2000: Invitations to speak.: I have been invited to speak at a number of research seminars, including those at Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge, and have given two short and one full-length paper at conferences of the Society for Old Testament Study.
  • 2000: Peer reviewer (publications): Peer reviewer for publishers (OUP, SOTS Monograph series).
  • 2000: Peer reviewer (funding): Peer reviewer for the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences


Authored book

Chapter in book

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Supervision students