Pamela Barmash has published widely on biblical and ancient Near Eastern law and on history and memory.
Professor Barmash received her B.A. from Yale, rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard. In her academic scholarship, she addresses issues of law and justice in her book Homicide in the Biblical World (2005, Cambridge University Press) and in her edited volume The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Law (2019, Oxford University Press). She shows how Jews have transformed the story of the Exodus and the celebration of Passover to meet changing needs and concerns in Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations (2015, Lexington Books, edited with W. David Nelson). In The Laws of Hammurabi: At the Confluence of Royal and Scribal Tradition (2020, Oxford University Press), Dr. Barmash analyzes how the scribe of the Laws of Hammurabi advanced beyond earlier scribes in composing statutes that manifest systematization and implicit legal principles, and inserted the Laws of Hammurabi into the form of a royal inscription, shrewdly reshaping the genre. She has recently published In the Shadow of Empire: Israel and Judah in the Long Sixth Century BCE (2021, Society of Biblical Literature Press, edited with Mark W. Hamilton), a book on how the transition from one empire to another in antiquity influenced how communities remember and imagine themselves. In her rabbinic writing, she is the author of teshuvot (rabbinic responsa) on contemporary issues in Judaism.
Professor Barmash is on leave during 2022-2023 and is writing two books, an anthology of modern responsa for the Jewish Publication Society and a volume on Jerusalem in the religious imagination of the Bible.
Professor Barmash teaches courses at Washington University on modern perspectives on the Bible, law and justice, mythology, the problem of evil, traditional Scriptural interpretation, and biblical and ancient Jewish history, culture, and religion.
She was the editor of Hebrew Studies, and she served as the director of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies at Washington University from 2005-2011. She has been a fellow at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and has also received fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.