Richard Zaleski

R Zaleski



Richard Zaleski is a scholar of ancient Christianity who situates early Jewish and Christian writings in the context of the wider ancient Mediterranean world in which they were composed. His research and teaching spans a range of topics in Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman literatureand early Christian texts and material culture through Late Antiquity. In particular, he is interested in the evolving reception history of the Pentateuchal narratives by later communities in different periods. Such history attests not only to the diverse ways the biblical text was used over time but also to the lived religious experience and specific concerns of later groups as they renegotiated past narratives for contemporary circumstances.

His monograph, entitled Between the Literal and the Allegorical: Paraphrase and the Mediation of Scripture in Philo of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa, examines how Philo and Gregory rework the biblical depiction of Moses's life via paraphrase in their respective Lives of Moses. He argues that the methods of Greco-Roman paraphrase, which were learned as part of the ancient educational paideia curriculum, function as an often-overlooked mode of biblical interpretation that provide exegetes tools to negotiate the meaning of scripture by presenting an ostensibly literal re-telling of the biblical account but is in actuality interwoven with many allegorical elements. Since this study problematizes our understanding not only of what constitutes "literal" interpretation but also the relationship between allegory and the literal, it has significant consequences for our understanding of biblical hermeneutics in antiquity.