Four professors from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences have been named 2021 Conrad Humanities Scholars, including Dov Weiss from the Religion Department. The Conrad Humanities Scholars Award is a five year designation that recognizes promising mid-career scholars and provides financial support for continued achievement, research, and scholarship in humanities.
Dov Weiss, an Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, joined the department in 2011. Weiss specializes in the history of Jewish biblical interpretation and rabbinic theology. His first book, “Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism” won the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in the category of scholarship.
He is currently working on his second book, “Rabbinic Inferno: Hell in Classical Judaism.” This book uses ancient Jewish discourse about Gehinnom—as it emerges in rabbinic biblical interpretation—to unearth the distinctive anxieties, values, aesthetics, fantasies, and hopes within classical Jewish culture. Rabbinic Inferno will trace how Jewry’s once near-unanimous belief in Gehinnom lost popularity in the medieval period when Moses Maimonides (1138-1204, Egypt) rejected its actual existence. Its decline intensified in the modern period when eighteenth-century German Jewish enlighteners, notably Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786, Berlin), rejected it. These historical developments, together with the 1885 Reform rabbinic declaration in Pittsburgh, culminated in the modern Jewish rejection of Gehinnom.
Weiss said that as a Conrad Scholar he will be able to attend scholarly conferences and academic institutions to present his work and engage with other scholars. The award also provides him the ability to purchase critical books and access academic software like Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, Accordance Bible Software, Bar-Ilan Responsa, and the Lieberman Talmud Databank.