Bruce Wells, Ph.D.

Professor of Theology and Religious Studies; Chair of Art Department
Specialization: Hebrew Bible
Office: Bellarmine 208 / Boland 202
Phone: 610-660-1399
Fax: 610-660-3217
Website: Academia Website

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Bruce Wells began teaching at SJU in 2005. He has taught REL 150 Genesis: Sex, Lies, & Mayhem, REL 211 The Hebrew Bible, REL 212 Israelite Religion, REL 321 Religion & Law in the Ancient World, REL 322 Myth & History in the Bible, and REL 370 God & Monsters. He is the author of The Law of Testimony in the Pentateuchal Codes (2004), co-author (with Raymond Westbrook) of Everyday Law in Biblical Israel (2009), and co-author (with F. Rachel Magdalene and Cornelia Wunsch) of Fault, Responsibility, and Administrative Law in Late Babylonian Legal Texts, forthcoming from Ugarit-Verlag.


Ph.D., 2003, Johns Hopkins University 

Professional Experience

Chair, Biblical Law Steering Committee, Society of Biblical Literature, 2011-2015

Peer Reviewer for Maarav, National Endowment for the Humanities, Oriental Institute Press - University of Chicago, Routledge Books, Society of Biblical Literature, Vetus Testamentum, Yale University Press



Fault, Responsibility, and Administrative Law in Late Babylonian Legal Texts [with F. R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch] (Altes Testament und Alter Orient 400; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, forthcoming).

“The Interpretation of Legal Traditions in Ancient Israel,” Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 4 (2015): 234–266. 

“Sex Crimes in the Laws of the Hebrew Bible,” Near Eastern Archaeology 78 (2015): 294–300. 

“The Long View: From Hammurabi to the Bible to the Rabbis,” Zeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte 19 (2014): 171–179. 

“Is It Law or Religion? Legal Motivations in Deuteronomic and Neo-Babylonian Texts,” in A. C. Hagedorn and R. G. Kratz, eds., Law and Religion in the Eastern Mediterranean: From Antiquity to Early Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 287 – 309. 

“Liability in the Priestly Texts of the Hebrew Bible,” Sapientia Logos: A Journal of Biblical Research & Interpretation in Africa 5 (2012): 1–31. 

“First Wives Club: Divorce, Demotion, and the Fate of Leah in Genesis 29,” Maarav: A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures 18 (2011): 101–129. 

“The Assertory Oath in Neo-Babylonian and Persian Administrative Texts,” Revue internationale des droits de l’antiquité 57 (2010): 13–29 [with F. R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch]. 

“The Quasi-Alien in Leviticus 25,” in R. Achenbach, R. Albertz, and J. Wöhrle, eds., The Foreigner and the Law: Perspectives from the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011),135–155. 

“Competing or Complementary? Judges and Elders in Biblical and Neo-Babylonian Law,” Zeitschrift für altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte 16 (2010): 73–100. 

“The Hated Wife in Deuteronomic Law.” Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010): 131–146. 

Everyday Law in Biblical Israel: An Introduction [with Raymond Westbrook] (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009). 

Grants and Awards

2013-2014 Teaching Award from the Saint Joseph’s University chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the International Jesuit Honor Society

Collaborative Research Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2006-2010

Humboldt Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2008-2009


historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts of the Hebrew Bible; Pentateuchal studies; biblical law; priestly literature; rhetorical criticism of biblical texts; legal and economic systems of ancient Mesopotamia and Syria; marriage, sex, and family relations in the ancient world

Faculty Expert Profile

  • Expertise: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Ancient Near Eastern History, Cuneiform Writing