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Prof Sacha Stern
Foster Court
Malet Place
  • Professor of Rabbinic Judaism
  • Dept of Hebrew & Jewish Studies
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities
Head of Department

Sacha Stern is Professor of Rabbinic Judaism and Head of Department at the UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He holds a BA in Ancient History from Oxford (1986), an MA in Social Anthropology from UCL (1988), and a D.Phil in Jewish Studies from Oxford (1992). He has also studied in Yeshivot in Israel. Before joining UCL in 2005, he was Lecturer in Jewish Studies at Jews' College, London and then Reader in Jewish Studies at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies).

Research Themes
Research Summary

Prof. Sacha Stern specializes in ancient and medieval Jewish history, with a special interest in time, calendars, and chronology. He has also researched and published articles on early rabbinic attitudes to pagans and paganism, and more generally on early rabbinic literature and history.

His latest monograph, Calendars in Antiquity (2012), examines the calendars of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Gaul, and other parts of the Mediterranean and the Near East, from the origins until the Jewish and Christian calendars of late Antiquity. He highlights the political context in which ancient calendars were designed and managed. Most ancient calendars were set and controlled by political rulers. They served as expressions of political power, as mechanisms of social control, and sometimes as assertions of political independence, or even of sub-culture and dissidence. Stern contends that calendars and the way they are reckoned should not be treated as a technical curiosity, but rather as an integral part of ancient culture and society.

Since 2008, he has been directing several major research projects on the Jewish calendar in the Middle Ages: "Medieval Monographs on the Jewish Calendar" (AHRC), "The Jewish Calendar in Early Islamic Sources" (Leverhulme), "Medieval Christian And Jewish Calendar Texts From England And Franco-Germany" (Leverhulme), and "Jewish calendar controversies in the 10th-11th centuries Near East: a historical and codicological analysis" (British Academy), with a total staff of five research associates and several international collaborators.

In 2013-18, he was Principal Investigator of an ERC (European Research Council) Advanced Grant research project entitled Calendars in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: standardization and fixation. Together with five research associates, he studied the evolution of calendars in late antique and medieval societies by focusing on several research areas: the seven-day week in the Roman Empire, late Roman calendar conversion tables (the hemerologia), and medieval monographs in Arabic and Hebrew on astronomy and the many ancient and medieval calendars (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hebrew-jewish/research/research-pro/calendars-antiquity-middle-ages). In collaboration with Marina Rustow (Princeton), he has written a monograph on The Jewish Calendar Controversy of 921/2, incorporating a new edition of a large corpus of Cairo Genizah sources (forthcoming).

In 2018, he led an international research team with Jonathan Ben-Dov (Haifa University) at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies on 'The Day Unit in Antiquity and the Middle Ages'.

From September 2018, he is Principal Investigator jointly with Ronny Vollandt (LMU, Munich) of a Fritz Thyssen research project on "Qaraite and Rabbanite Calendars", with Nadia Vidro as Research Associate.

Sacha Stern is editor of the Journal of Jewish Studies (jointly with Alison Salvesen, Oxford University) and of the Brill series Texts and Studies on Time, Astronomy, and Calendars (jointly with Charles Burnett, the Warburg Institute).

Teaching Summary

Sacha Stern teaches BA and MA courses in ancient Jewish history and in rabbinic Judaism, most recently "Judaism and the origins of Christianity", “Introduction to the Babylonian Talmud”, and "Modern approaches to the Talmud". He also supervises doctoral students.

Academic Background
1992 DPhil Doctor of Philosophy – Jewish Studies University of Oxford
1988 MA Master of Arts – Social Anthropology University College London
1986 MA Oxon MA Oxon – Ancient History University of Oxford
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