Areas of Study and Research
PhD (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
I study the genres, techniques, ideas, and history of the Hebrew Bible; and the society, religion and history of ancient Israel and Judea. My approach integrates archaeology, the ancient Southwest Asian context, early Jewish interpretation, and modern theory. My book Oracular Law and Priestly Historiography in the Torah (Mohr Siebeck, 2014) analyzes the combination of law and narrative in four "oracular novellas.” Current projects include a historical one, God in the Eyes of Israel: A History of the Religious Imagination in Ancient Israel & Judea, which traces how text was treated as an agent of religious experience and was used to reimagine family, region, royalty, and nationhood; a literary one, Coherence and the Hebrew Bible, which addresses the definitive Chicago question: biblical criticism is all well and good in practice, but how does it work in theory; and an art-critical one, on finger-pointing at the gods and related motifs on varied media in the period of the Assyrian empire. Also, I blog on biblical poetry as The Bible Sleuth.
Prof. Chavel is a board member of the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies and also serves on the board of the CEDAR digital humanities project. He is a member of the Core Faculty of The Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. He is also the Editor of Maarav: A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures.