Naftali Cohn studies the texts and culture of Jews in Classical to Late Antiquity, focusing especially on the group known as the rabbis, who produced texts that became canonical and foundational for subsequent Jewish literature and practice. His research centres on the late-second or early-third century law collection known as the Mishnah, which he reads using the critical lenses of ritual theory, narratology, memory/historiography, feminist theory, and poststructuralist critical theory in general. His publications include a book forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press (2012), entitled The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis. At the same time as Cohn continues to study the centrality and political usefulness of the Temple’s memory for the rabbis, he has also begun two new projects, one on the rabbis’ construction of ritual action — understood within the Roman cultural context, and the second on women’s everyday lives in Mishnaic law.
The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis,University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
“Domestic Women: Constructing and Deconstructing a Gender Stereotype in the Mishnah.” In From Antiquity to the Postmodern World: Contemporary Jewish Studies in Canada, edited by Daniel Maoz and Andrea Gondos, 38-61. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.
“When Women Confer with Rabbis: On Male Authority and Female Agency in the Mishnah.” Journal of Textual Reasoning, 6,2 (March 2011) online journal
“Rabbis as Jurists: On the Representation of Past and Present Legal Institutions in the Mishnah.” Journal of Jewish Studies, 60.2 (Fall 2009): 245-263.