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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


  • 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.
  • 'The Origins of kai ge', in Biblical Greek in Context (ed. J.K. Aitken and T.V. Evans; BiTS; Leuven: Peeters, 2015), 21-40.
  • 'The Social and Historical Setting of the Septuagint: Palestine and the Diaspora', in T. Michael Law and Alison Salvesen (eds.), The [Oxford] Handbook of Septuagint (Oxford, forthcoming).
  • ‘Ben Sira's Table Manners and the Social Setting of His Book’, in J. Jarick (ed.), Perspectives on Israelite Wisdom (London: T&T Clark, 2016 [2015]), 418-38.
  • 'Introduction', 'Psalms', 'Proverbs' (with L. Cuppi), 'Ecclesiastes', 'Wisdom of Solomon', 'Prayer of Manasseh', in J.K. Aitken (ed.), The T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint (London: T&T Clark, 2015).
  • 'Why is the Giraffe Kosher? Exoticism in Dietary Laws of the Second Temple Period', Biblische Notizen 164.1 (2015), 21-34.
  • ‘Race, Ethnicity, and Class: Ancient Judaism’, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies (2 vols.; ed. J.M. O'Brien; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 2: .
  • 'Jewish Worship amid Greeks: The Lexical Context of the Old Greek Psalter', in R. T. McLay (ed.), The Temple in Text and Tradition (London: T&T Clark, 2014), 48-70.
  • 'The Language of the Septuagint and Jewish Greek Identity', in James K. Aitken and James Carleton Paget (eds.), The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 120-34.
  • ‘Outlook’, in The Reception of Septuagint Words in Jewish-Hellenistic and Christian Literature (ed. E. Bons, R. Brucker, and J. Joosten; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), pp. 183–94. 
  • 'Neologisms: A Septuagint Problem', in J.K. Aitken, C. Maier and J. Clines (eds.), Interested Readers: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David J. A. Clines (Atlanta, Ga.: SBL, 2013), 315-29.
  • ‘The Characterisation of Speech in the Septuagint Pentateuch’, in David J.A. Clines and J. Cheryl Exum (eds), The Reception of the Hebrew Bible in the Septuagint and the New Testament: Essays in Memory of Aileen Guilding (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2013), 9-31.
  • ‘The Inevitability of Reading Job through Lamentations’, in K.J. Dell and W. Kynes (eds.), Reading Job Intertextually (LHBOTS 574; London: T&T Clark, 2013), 204–19.
  • ‘Text Criticism: Apocrypha’, in M.D. Coogan, ed., The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Books of the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • ‘Fat Eglon’, in G. Khan & D. Lipton (eds), Studies on the Text and Versions of the Hebrew Bible in honour of Robert Gordon (VTS 149; Leiden: Brill, 2012), 141-54.
  • ‘The Significance of Rhetoric in the Greek Pentateuch,’ in J.K. Aitken, K.J. Dell, and B.A. Mastin (eds), On Stone and Scroll (BZAW 420; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011), 507–21.
  • barak, etc.’, in H.-J. Fabry and Ulrich Dahmen (eds), Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Qumrantexten, Band 1 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2011), 521–28.
  • za‘am, etc.’, H.-J. Fabry and Ulrich Dahmen (eds), Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Qumrantexten, Band 1 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2011), 861-62.
  • ‘The Literary Attainment of the Translator of Greek Sirach’, in J.-S. Rey & J. Joosten (eds), The Texts and Versions of the Book of Ben Sira: Transmission and Interpretation(JSJSup 150; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 95–126.
  • ‘Judaic National Identity’, in L.L. Grabbe & O. Lipschits (eds), Judah Between East and West: The Transition Period from Persian to Greek Rule (ca. 400-200 BCE) (LSTS 75; London T&T Clark, 2011), 31-48.
  • ‘Job’s diet: comfort, food and suffering’, in Piotr Mitzner and Anna Szczepan-Wojnarska (ed.), Hiob Biblijny, Hiob Obecny w Kuluturze (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Kardynala Stefana Warszawa, 2010), 47–68.
  • ‘Jewish Use of Greek Proverbs’, in N. de Lange et al. (eds), Jewish Reception of Greek Bible Versions (Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 53-77.
  • 'The Septuagint Translation Legend in a Byzantine Prognosticon', Bulletin of Judaeo-Greek Studies 43 (Winter 2008-09), 32-35.
  • 'Context of Situation in Biblical Lexica', in J. Dyk and W. van Peursen (eds), Foundations for Syriac Lexicography III (ISLP; Gorgias Press, 2009), 181-201.
  • 'Other Hebrew Lexica: Zorell and Alonso Schoekel', in J. Dyk and W. van Peursen (eds), Foundations for Syriac Lexicography III (ISLP; Gorgias Press, 2009), 251-64.
  • 'Phonological Phenomena in Greek Papyri and Inscriptions and their Significance for the Septuagint', in J. Corley and V. Skemp, Studies in the Greek Bible: Essays in honor of Francis T. Gignac, S.J. (CBQMS, 44; Washington DC: CBA, 2008), 256-77.
  • 'The God of the pre-Maccabees: Designations of the divine in the early Hellenistic period', in R.P. Gordon (ed.), The God of Israel (University of Cambridge Oriental publications, 64; Cambridge University Press, 2007), 246-66.
  • 'Poet and Critic: Royal Ideology and the Greek Translator of Proverbs', in Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers (ed. T. Rajak, S. Pearce, J. Aitken & J. Dines; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).
  • 'Rhetoric and Poetry in Greek Ecclesiastes', Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies 38 (2006), 55-78.
  • 'What does Christianity in Jewish terms mean?', in J.K. Aitken & E.D. Kessler (eds), Challenges in Jewish-Christian Relations (New York: Paulist Press, 2006), 203-17.
  • 'Sanctus Matthaeus, magister sapientiae, summa cum laude', in Jeremy Corley & Vincent Skemp (eds), Intertextual Studies in Ben Sira and Tobit (CBQMS, 38; Washington, DC: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2005), 264-79.
  • 'Hengel's Judentum und Hellenismus', Journal of Biblical Literature 123 (2004), 331-41.
  • 'Introducing the Septuagint', Bulletin of Judaeo-Greek Studies 34 (2004), 20-26.

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)

  • “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).
Reader in Hebrew and Early Jewish Studies
Dr James  Aitken

Contact Details

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


Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.