Doug Hoffer

doug hoffer



Doug Hoffer is a scholar of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. He completed his Ph.D. in Jewish and Christian Bible at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2022. His research centers on the Pauline epistles in their Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts, as well as the reception of Paul’s letters in the New Testament and other early Christian literature.

His current project, Diathēkai Human and Divine: Covenants, Testaments, and Paul’s argumentum a fortiori in Gal 3:15–17, addresses a notorious crux interpretum. The rhetorical function of Paul’s argumentum a minore ad maius in vv. 15–17 hinges on the meaning of the ambiguous term diathēkē, which can refer both to a revocable disposition of property (last will and testament) and an immutable pledge (covenant). Interpreters tend to fall along one side or the other of the will/covenant binary by reading the logic and language of Paul’s argument through a juridical lens, whether that of Greco-Roman inheritance law or the covenantal analogues of the ancient Near East. In contrast, Hoffer contends that Paul’s argumentum a fortiori is more clearly illuminated by consideration of the functions of such proofs in Greco-Roman rhetorical theory and Paul’s own reliance on the Greek translations of Israel’s scriptures for his vocabulary and motifs. Weaving together insights from rhetorical criticism, terminological theory, and reception history, this project moves beyond the will/covenant binary and opens new interpretive options for this crux. In addition to clarifying a famously difficult passage, this study contributes to debates over the ways in which Paul was both a conventional and exceptional thinker within Second Temple Judaism. It also constitutes a hermeneutical intervention, illuminating how interpreters identify and negotiate the transparency and ambiguity of written texts, as well as how historians can effectively evaluate the available forms of evidence (literary, papyrological, etc.) in reconstructing the earliest meanings and functions of biblical literature.

Hoffer currently teaches courses on Koine Greek, Greek and Roman tragedy and the reception of the genre, and the use of the Bible in U.S. politics.