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Faculty of Divinity



Dr Aitken studied at the Universities of Durham and Cambridge. He subsequently worked on projects on Hebrew semantics (Cambridge) and on the Greek Bible (Reading) before teaching Hebrew and Aramaic in the Faculty of Oriental Studies [AMES] (Cambridge), and then Jewish-Christian relations in the Centre for the study of Jewish Christian Relations (the Woolf Institute, Cambridge). He began teaching in the Faculty of Divinity in 2009.

Research Interests

Dr Aitken's interests lie in the text and language of the Hebrew Bible, and in the literature and history of ancient Judaism. A particular area of research currently is the Greek version of the Bible (the Septuagint), including its language, exegesis and place within second temple Jewish society.

Key Publications
Full list of publications in


  • J.K. Aitken, In Praise of Literalism: The Septuagint, Creativity and the Hebrew Turn, tbc.
  • J.K. Aitken, No Stone Unturned: Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary (CSHB; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2014).
  • J.K. Aitken, The Semantics of Blessing and Cursing in Ancient Hebrew (Louvain: Peeters, 2007).
  • G.I. Davies, assisted by J.K. Aitken, D.R. de Lacey, P.A. Smith & J. Squirrel, Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions: Corpus and Concordance, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Edited books

  • The Evil Inclination in Early Judaism and Christianity (edited with I. Rosen-Zvi and H. Patmore; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).
  • Discovering, Deciphering and Dissenting: Ben Sira Manuscripts after 120 Years (ed. with R. Egger-Wenzel and S.C. Reif; ISDCLY; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019).
  • The City in the Hebrew Bible (ed. with H. Marlow; London: T&T Clark, 2018).
  • Biblical Greek in Context (ed. with T.V. Evans; BiTS; Leuven: Peeters, 2015).
  • The T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint (London: T&T Clark, 2015).
  • The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (ed. with James Carleton Paget; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 
  • Interested Readers (ed. with Jeremy Clines and Christl Maier; Atlanta, Ga.: SBL, 2013).
  • On Stone and Scroll: Essays in Honour of Graham Ivor Davies (ed. with K.J. Dell and B.A. Mastin; BZAW 420; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011).
  • Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers (ed. with T. Rajak, S. Pearce & J. Dines; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).
  • Challenges in Jewish-Christian Relations (ed. with E. Kessler; New York: Paulist Press, 2006).

Recent papers

  • “Divine Epithets in the Greek Psalms: Cultural Accommodation and Translatability”, in press.
  • “The Origins and Social Context of the Septuagint,” in Handbook for Septuagint Research, ed. Glenny and Ross (London: T&T Clark), in press.
  • “The Ptolemaic Setting for the Translation of the Greek Pentateuch,” Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, in press.
  • “Jewish Inscriptions in a (post-)Biblical World,” in The Biblical World, 2nd edn. (ed, K. J. Dell; Oxford), in press.
  • “Ben Sira and Imperial History: A Reassessment,” in Sirach and Its Contexts: The Pursuit of Wisdom and Human Flourishing (ed. S. L. Adams, M. J. Goff, and G. S. Goering; Leiden: Brill, 2021).
  • “The Inclination (yetser) as Rendered in the Septuagint,” in The Evil Inclination in Early Judaism and Christianity (ed. J. K. Aitken, H. Patmore, and I. Rosen-Zvi; Cambridge University Press, 2021).
  • “The Social and Historical Setting of the Septuagint: Palestine and the Diaspora,” in A. Salvesen, ed., Oxford Handbook to the Septuagint (Oxford, 2021).
  • 'The Jewish Bible of Timothy and Aquila', in S. Morlet (ed.), Jewish-Christian Disputations in Antiquity and the Middle Ages Timothy and Aquila, Petrus Alfonsi and Jewish Polemics against Christianity (Leuven: Peeters, 2021),.
  • (with E. Matusova) “Wisdom of Solomon,” in Oxford Handbook of Wisdom Literature, ed. W. Kynes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • “Homeric Rewriting in Greek Sirach,” Vetus Testamentum 70 (2020), 521–552.
  • “Greek Versions of the Hebrew Bible and Other Writings,” in T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D.M. Gurtner and LT. Stuckenbruck; London; T&T Clark, 2019), vol. 2.
  • “The Septuagint and Jewish Translation Traditions,” in Septuagint, Targum and Beyond: Comparing Aramaic and Greek Versions from Jewish Antiquity, JSJS 193 (ed. David Shepherd, Jan Joosten and Michaël N. van der Meer; Leiden: Brill, 2019), 197–227.
  • “The Style of the Minor Prophets Scroll from Nahal Hever,” in Les Douze Prophètes dans la LXX: Protocoles et procédures dans la traduction grecque: stylistique, poétique et histoire, VTS 180 (ed. C. Dogniez; Leiden: Brill, 2019), 3–28.
  • 'The Synoptic Problem and the Reception of the Ben Sira Manuscripts', in Discovering, Deciphering and Dissenting: Ben Sira Manuscripts after 120 Years (ed. J.K. Aitken, R. Egger-Wenzel and S.C. Reif; ISDCLY; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019), 147-68.
  • 'The City without Streets: Envisaging Jerusalem in Biblical and Early Jewish Sources', in Jerusalem as the Text of Culture (ed. D Muszytowska, J. Krecidlo and A Szczepan-Wojnarska; Berlin: Peter Lang, 2018), 97-114.
  • 'The Literary and Linguistic Subtlety of the Greek Version of Sirach', in Texts and Contexts of the Book of Sirach/Texte und Kontexte des Sirachbuches, ed. G. Karner, F. Ueberschaer, and B. M. Zapff (Atlanta, Ga.: SBL Press, 2017), 115-40.
  • 'Jewish Tradition and Culture', in The Early Christian World, 2nd edn., ed. P Esler (London: Routledge, 2017).
  • 'The Septuagint and Egyptian Translation Methods', in XV Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Munich 2013 (ed. W. Kraus, M. van der Meer and M. Maiser; Atlanta, Ga.: SBL Press, 2016), 269-94.
  • 'Moses's θίβις', in Die Septuaginta – Orte und Intentionen. 5. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 24.–27. Juli 2014 2014 (ed. S. Kreuzer, M. Maiser and M. Sigismund; WUNT 361; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 169-85.

Online Lectures:

"Lessons for modern translation theory from Aquila and other odd ancient predecessors"

“Learning among Jewish social groups in Ptolemaic Egypt”

Ethiopic Flashcards:

Alphabet (Column I only) 
Full alphabet
Vocabulary I (Lambdin chh. 1-11)
Vocabulary II (Lambdin chh. 12-19

Reader in Hebrew and Early Jewish Studies
Dr James  Aitken

Contact Details

Email address: 
01223 763024
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy


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