Adi is a PhD student in the Divinity School studying the history of Judaism. She received her bachelor's and master's degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as another master's degree from the Freie Universität Berlin.
What does your work focus on / revolve around?
I generally work on tenth- and eleventh-century Bible and Qur’ān commentaries. I study texts of dialectical theology (kalām), which explore issues of theodicy and free will. My dissertation examines the various aspects of tenth-century Jewish and Muslim exegetical writings on God’s “hardening” or “sealing” of the hearts. The research focuses on verses from the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’ān which seem to express the idea that God hardens or seals the hearts of certain individuals with the intention of leading them astray or preventing them from repenting.
Why study religion? / Why is what you study important?
I never know how to explain why I chose to study religion. So, I cannot really answer this question. Here is a not-unrelated story instead:
I once sat at a tiny coffee shop in Jerusalem. I was doing an assignment for my Arabic studies and was sitting in front of a mess of papers, trying to decipher this complex text that contained some hadiths and Qur’anic verses. At a certain point, a beggar entered the shop. He passed through the tables with a can in his hand, and I gave him a few shekels. He then looked at the papers on my table for a long minute. ‘I know this hadith,’ he said in Arabic. ‘You do? I cannot understand what it means.’ ‘I can try to explain what it says if you want,’ he suggested. I thanked him and suggested he sit on a nearby chair. When the owner of the shop saw that he was sitting next to me, she came over and asked me quietly if I was okay. I assured her that I was fine, and we both turned to the text in front of us. He did not sit there long. We read the text together, and he explained some difficult words and offered some background. When we were done, he stood up politely, said some kind words, and left.
How did you come to study at the Divinity School?
When I decided I wanted to apply for doctoral programs, my MA advisor told me that the University of Chicago Divinity School would be the best place for me. Since everyone knows that one should always listen to her teacher (or perhaps it only applies to my teachers?), I did as she advised.