Union Theological Seminary Student Life


Alan Cooper

Alan Cooper

Professor of Bible


3041 Broadway, BT 804
New York, NY 10027



Yale University, Ph.D., 1976

Yale University, M.Phil., 1974

Columbia University, B.A., 1971


Professor Alan Cooper is Professor of Bible at both Union Theological Seminary and at neighboring Jewish Theological Seminary.

He received his bachelor's degree in religious studies from Columbia University in 1971. While a student at Columbia, he became one of the original members of the nationally-acclaimed rock and roll group Sha-Na-Na, and performed at the historic Woodstock Festival of 1969. He went on to do his graduate work at Yale University, earning a master of philosophy degree (1974) and doctorate (1976) in religious studies.

Dr. Cooper's doctoral dissertation was on the linguistic structure of biblical poetry. After earning his doctorate, he accepted a teaching position in religious studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He taught there for ten years, during which time he also spent a year in Jerusalem as a Hebrew University Postdoctoral Fellow.

In 1986, Dr. Cooper joined the Faculty of the Hebrew Union College as Professor of Bible; from 1990–1996, he was Director of the School of Graduate Studies at HUC. In 1997, he was appointed Professor of Bible and Director of Publications at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He was appointed to the Elaine Ravich Chair in Jewish Studies at JTS in 2005. In 1998, he was appointed Professor of Bible at Union Theological Seminary, becoming the first person to hold a joint professorship at both Union and JTS. Dr. Cooper's dual appointment signals a major step in strengthening important historical ties between these two institutions. In addition, since 1990, he has been on the faculty of the summer kallot sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Dr. Cooper's publications include a monograph on Canaanite divine names that appear in the Hebrew Bible, and many articles on biblical poetics and the history of interpretation. In 2002, he published "The Message of Lamentations" in The Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society, and “Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies” in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies.

Dr. Cooper's teaching and research interests are centered on the relationship between poetics and historical criticism, and the history of biblical interpretation. His current work-in-progress includes a series of studies on the literary history of the Pentateuch, a collection of essays on biblical wisdom literature, and a monograph on traditional interpretation of Leviticus 12. For the work on Leviticus, he was awarded a Lilly Endowment Faculty Fellowship in 2003–04.


Jewish Biblical Interpretation (Fall 2013)

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