About Me

Naomi Janowitz's Biography (Books)

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Naomi Janowitz is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Davis. She is the author of Poetics of Ascent (1989) and numerous articles on the religions of late antiquity. Janowitz's lively and accessible books on Religion and Occultism illuminates the fact that activities denounced as magical were integral to late antique religious practice, and shows that they must be understood from the perspective of those who employed them.

In 1976, Naomi Janowitz and Wenig self-published Siddur Nashim: A book of Sabbath Prayers for Women, which referred to God using female pronouns and imagery, and was the first Sabbath prayer book to do so.

The experience of praying with Siddur Nashim [the first Sabbath prayer book to refer to God using female pronouns and imagery]... transformed my relationship with God. For the first time, I understood what it meant to be made in God's image. To think of God as a woman like myself, to see Her as both powerful and nurturing, to see Her imaged with a woman's body, with womb, with breasts - this was an experience of ultimate significance. Was this the relationship that men have had with God for all these millennia? How wonderful to gain access to those feelings and perceptions.

From Naomi Janowitz's Public University Profile:

Email: [email protected] Office: 924 Sproul

Education and Degree(s):

B.A. (with Honors), Brown University, Religious Studies M.A., Divinity School, University of Chicago, History of Religions Ph.D., Department of Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago

Research Interest(s):

- Religions of Late Antiquity
- Methods for the Study of Religion
- Psychoanalytic Approaches to Religion


- Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Chapter, Rhode Island
- Fulbright Fellowship for research in Isareli (1985-6)
- American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship for Recent Recipients of the Ph.D. (1987-88)
- Outstanding Academic Book Award for Icons of Power from Library/Choice Journal, 2002
- Committee on Special Research and Training (CORST) Essay Prize awarded by the American Pschoanalytic Association for article "Lusting for Death: Some Unconscious Fantasies in an Ancient Jewish Martrydom Text" 2004
- Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award 2005

Selected Publications:


- Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2002)
- Magic in the Roman World (London: Routledge Press, London, 2001)
- The Poetics of Ascent: Theories of Language in a Rabbinic Ascent Text (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989)


- Water, Word and Name: The Shifting Pragmatics of the Sotah/Suspected Adulteress Ritual, forthcoming in Literature or Liturgy? Early Christian Hymns and Prayers in their Literary and Liturgical Context in Antiquity, eds. Leonhard Clemens and Helmut Lohr, Mohr, 2014
- Natural, Supernatural, Religious, Magical: Late Antique Theories of Effective Action, in Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, and Theurgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and other Late Antique Literature, eds. April D. DeConick, Gregory Shaw, and John Turner, Leiden: Brill, 2013.
- Inventing the Scapegoat: Theories of Sacrifice and Ritual, Journal of Ritual Studies 25:1 (2011) pp. 15-24.
- Good Jews Don't: Historical and Philosophical Constructions of Idolatry, 2007 by The University of Chicago Press.
- Envy of Maternal Functions in Sacrifice Rituals in Envy and Jealousy: New Views about Two Powerful Feelings, edited by Leon Wurmser and Heidrun Jarass, New York: Analytic Press 2008 pp. 117-128
- Lusting for Death: Some Unconscious Fantasies in an Ancient Jewish Martyrdom Text, in Psychoanalytic Psychology (Fall 2006) 23:4 pp. 644-653.
- Do Jews Make Good Protestants?: The cross-cultural Study of Ritual, in Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity. Ed. Jacob Olupona, London: Routledge, pp. 23-36.
- Rethinking Jewish Identity in Late Antiquity, in Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity, eds. Stephen Mitchell and Geoffrey Greatrex London: Duckworth 2000 pp. 205-219.
- Alchemy, in Guide to the Late Antique World, eds. Peter Brown and Glen Bowersock (Harvard University Press, 1999)
- Rabbis and Their Opponents: The Construction of the "Min" in Rabbinic Anecdotes Journal of Early Christian Studies 6:3 (1998) pp. 449-462.
- The Common Era: Personal Reflections on Teaching Late Antique Religion, Judaism 44:4 (Fall 1995), pp. 433-34.
- Re-creating Genesis: The Metapragmatics of Divine Speech, in Reflexive Language: Reported Speech and Metapragmatics, ed. J. Lucy (Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 393-405.
- God's Body: Theological and Ritual Functions of Shi'ur Komah, in People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective, ed. H. Eilberg Schwartz (SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 183-201.
- Rabbinic Methods of Inference and the Rationality Debate, Journal of Religion 72:4 (October 1992), pp. 491-511 [with Andrew J. Lazarus].
- The Rhetoric of Translation: Three Perspectives on Translating Torah, Harvard Theological Review 84:2 (Winter 1991), pp. 129-40.
- Theories of Divine Names in Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius, History of Religions 30:4 (May 1991), pp. 359-72.
- Parallelism and Framing Devices in a Late Antique Ascent Text, in Semiotic Meditation, eds. E. Mertz and R. Parmentier, (Academic Press, 1985), pp. 155-175.
- Language and Ascent: Levi-Strauss, Silverstein and Ma'aseh Merkabah, in Anthropology and the Study of Religion, eds. F. Reynolds and R. Moore (Center for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1984), pp. 213-228.
- Translating Cult: Hellenistic Judaism and the Letter of Aristeas, in Seminar Papers, Society for Biblical Literature (1983), pp. 347-356.


- Stephen Fine, This Holy Place: On the Sanctity of the Synagogue during the Greco-Roman Period for Christianity and the Arts (Fall 1998).
- Gregory Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus for Journal of Religion (October 1997).
- M.D. Swartz, Mystical Prayer in Ancient Judaism for Hebrew Studies (1993).
- G. Nickelsburg and R. Kraft, Early Judaism and its Modern Interpreters for Catholic Biblical Quarterly 51:3. (October 1989).
- I. Zeitlin, Ancient Judaism for American Journal of Sociology 92:3 (November 1986).

Sources: wikipedia, religions.ucdavis.edu

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