Dr Benjamin Williams

Dr Benjamin Williams

Senior Lecturer in Biblical and Rabbinic Studies

Phone: 02083495600

Dr Benjamin Williams teaches Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinics at Leo Baeck College and the University of Oxford. His research focuses on rabbinic Bible interpretation and its transmission in Jewish and Christian commentaries of the medieval and early modern periods. Before arriving at Leo Baeck College, Ben studied at the University of Oxford where his doctoral dissertation was supervised by Professor Joanna Weinberg. He then carried out a three-year Leverhulme-funded project on the reception of the Hebrew Bible in the Sixteenth Century called “Reading the Bible in the Ottoman Empire: A New Chapter in Early Modern Jewish Exegesis” at King’s College London. His monograph, Commentary on Midrash Rabba in the Sixteenth Century: The Or ha-Sekhel of Abraham ben Asher, was published by Oxford University Press.


Selected Publications

  • Commentary on Midrash Rabba in the Sixteenth Century: The Or ha-Sekhel of Abraham ben Asher (Oxford: OUP, 2016).
  • “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.
  • 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.