Jacob Wright

Jacob L. Wright

Professor of Hebrew Bible


DrTheol, University of Göttingen, Germany, 2003
BA, University of Missouri, Kansas City, 1996


(404) 727-4157


Dr. Jacob L. Wright serves as professor of Hebrew Bible at Candler and as an associate faculty member at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory. Prior to coming to Candler in 2007, Wright taught for several years at the University of Heidelberg, one of Europe’s oldest universities, renowned for biblical scholarship.

He is the author of many essays, articles, and books. His first book, Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and Its Earliest Readers (de Gruyter, 2004), won a 2008 Templeton prize, the largest prize for first books in religion. Wright published his enhanced e-book, King David and His Reign Revisited with Apple iTunes (2013), billed as the first publication of its kind in the humanities. His book, David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014), received an honorable mention at the 2015 PROSE Awards, administered by the Association of American Publishers, as well as the coveted The Nancy Lapp Popular Book Award from American Schools of Oriental Research. 

Wright has developed a highly popular MOOC (massive open online course) through Coursera entitled: The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future. More than 60,000 students have enrolled in the six-week course since it launched in 2014.

Wright delivered the prestigious 2010-11 lecture in Milieux biblique at the Collège de France in Paris, and was awarded a 2011-12 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. In 2015, he received a $50,000 Templeton Foundation grant to underwrite a new research project with the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem, which will examine the highly developed discourse regarding the knowledge of God in the Hebrew Bible, as well as comparative work with the New Testament.

Wright has been named to Emory’s Faculty of Distinction, and is a member of Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta.


Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and Its Origins, Cambridge University Press, 2023

War, Memory, and National Identity in the Hebrew BibleCambridge University Press, 2020

Co-editor, Archaeology and History of Eighth-Century Judah, Society of Biblical Literature, 2018

Co-editor, Supplementation and the Study of the Hebrew Bible, Brown Judaic Studies, 2018

Co-editor, Warfare, Ritual, and Symbol in Biblical and Modern ContextsSociety of Biblical Literature Press, 2015

David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory, Cambridge University Press, 2015

King David and His Reign Revisited, Aldina Media, 2013

Co-editor and contributor, “Between Nation and State in the Book of Samuel: Ittai the Gittite,” Making a Difference: Essays in Honor of Tamara Cohn Eskenazi. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012

Co-editor, Interpreting Exile: Interdisciplinary Studies of Displacement and Deportation in Biblical and Modern Contexts.  Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2011

Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah-Memoir and Its Earliest Readers.  De Gruyter, 2004


“’Fear (not)!’ –Emotion and Ethics in Deuteronomy,” in Journal of Ethics in Antiquity and Christianity, October 2020

“Rahab: Between Faith and Works,” in The Bible and Interpretation, August 2020

“Rahab and the Gibeonites,” in Worship, Women, and War: Essays in Honor of Susan Niditch. Brown Judaic Studies, November 01, 2015

“War and Peace in the Bible,” in The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press, October 17, 2014

“Commensality and Political Consolidation,”  in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Archeology. Oxford University Press, July 15, 2013

“Prophets, Kings and Gewaltmonopol in the Ancient Near East,” in How does one become a prophet?. Fribourg, January 06, 2014

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2023 (Religion category) for Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and its Origins

Templeton Grant for “Knowing God in the Old Testament,” 2015-2016

The Nancy Lapp Popular Book Award for David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory, American Schools of Oriental Research

National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2011-2012

Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant (New York), 2009-2010

University Research Grant, 2009-2010

Sir John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, the largest prize for first books in religion, for Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah-Memoir and its Earliest Readers

Faculty of Distinction, Emory University, 2007-present

Emmy Noether Grant for the interdisciplinary project “Early Christian Prayer and Its Jewish Origins,” 2000-2002

Honors Award for the highest GPA in the Humanities, UMKC

Contextual Education I




Interpretational Methods Seminar: Ezra-Nehemiah

Interpreting Prophetic Texts: The Book/s of Jeremiah

Introduction to Political Theology: The Covenant in the Hebrew Bible

Methods in Jewish Interpretation of the Bible: The Book of Judges

Texts of Terror: Strategies for Interpreting Troublesome Texts from the Hebrew Bible

In the media

November 15, 2023

Emory Professor Jacob Wright Thrives on Big Ideas

November 3, 2023

New book examines how the Bible came to be — a loser’s tale

October 11, 2023

Answering the ‘Why’ of the Bible: Jacob L. Wright

September 28, 2023

August 30 Picks of The Best Books We Read This Week

September 14, 2023

Starred Review: “Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and its Origins”

August 21, 2023

How the Authors of the Bible Spun Triumph from Defeat

May 29, 2020

Emory Professor Teaches World About Torah

March 24, 2015

What Do We Know About King David and Why Does It Matter

May 20, 2014

The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose and Political Future

March 26, 2014

Noah: The Origin of the Origin Story

October 30, 2012

Ancient Greece and Ancient Israel

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