Introducing our Newest Fellows

The Center for Hebraic Thought is happy to announce the addition of Dr. Jonathan Pennington and Dr. Jeremiah Unterman to our cohort of academic fellows! The Center for Hebraic Thought welcomes distinguished scholars, both Jewish and Christian with different scholarly backgrounds to diversify expertise at the CHT as well as to encourage their research on the thought world of the Bible. 

Dr. Jonathan Pennington

Dr. Pennington is an excellent example of a scholar working at the intersection of philosophy and the Bible. Most people think of the Old Testament when they hear “Hebraic thought.” But Hebraic thought pervades the New Testament as well, Jesus being a perfect example of engaging the Greco-Roman world with thinking rooted in the Hebrew Bible. We are pleased to bring in our first New Testament scholar, Dr. Jonathan Pennington, who has written extensively on Jesus’ use of Greek philosophical concepts in order to affirm what is good and re-orient it to the Hebraic world of philosophy. His two recent books The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing and Jesus the Great Philosopher are two examples of Hebraic thought encountering Hellenism. 

Dr. Pennington received his PhD in New Testament Studies from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Director of Research Doctoral Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also on the preaching staff at Sojourn East in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the host and co-producer of the YouTube show, Cars, Coffee, Theology.

Dr. Pennington wrote “Jesus the Philosopher,” an article based on his forthcoming book, for the Center for Hebraic Thought earlier this year. He writes about Jesus, “he showed up in dialogue with his fellow Jewish teachers as a prophetic-flavored philosopher, not entirely unlike Socrates,” defending his philosophical savvy against critiques of being merely a religious figure and “good teacher.” Further, check out this episode of Cars, Coffee, Theology, where Dr. Pennington interviews CHT Director Dr. Dru Johnson.

Rabbi Dr. Jeremiah Unterman

Dr. Jeremiah Unterman is an Israeli scholar who studied under the famous biblical scholar: Jacob Milgrom. His recent book Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics offers a keen and clear analysis of the ethical world of the ancient Near East into which the Hebrew Bible entered. It’s difficult to appreciate how radical the Hebrew Bible’s protections and legal mercies were until considered in its own context. The CHT is honored to have the Rabbi Dr. Unterman join in the effort to elevate biblical thinking on ethics.

Rabbi Dr. Jeremiah Unterman has been resident scholar at the Herzl Institute, and, since 2017, the academic editor for the Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel. Aside from the aforementioned Justice for All, he has written From Repentance to Redemption: Jeremiah’s Thought in Transition, and over 60 articles in scholarly journals and encyclopedic publications in the U.S. and Israel.

He received Ph.D. in the Judaica Program of the Near Eastern Studies Department at U.C., Berkeley. He is a citizen of both the United States and Israel, and served in the Israel Defense Forces. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

After joining the CHT as a Fellow, Dr. Unterman gave a public lecture at The King’s College last Fall on Moral Progress in the Hebrew Bible, answering the question of whether the Hebrew Bible gives the world moral progress, or just another system of morality (hint: yes, the Hebrew Bible brought about ethical innovations thus far unseen in the ancient Near East). You can listen to the recording of that talk here.

Dr. Unterman also recorded a podcast with CHT Director Dr. Dru Johnson on Hebrew Ethics. He argues that ethical notions originated by the Hebrew Bible, such as “all men are created equal,” sound obvious to the modern west but were unheard of in the Bible’s ancient context.

Dr. Pennington and Dr. Unterman join our other academic fellows at the Center for Hebraic Thought: 

  • Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Bar-Ilan University
  • Dr. Jeffery P. Garcia, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Second Temple Literature at Nyack College, NYC
  • Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart, President of the Theopolis Institute, a theological think tank and training center in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Rev. Dr. Ryan O’Dowd, Senior Fellow at Cornell University’s Chesterton House and pastor of Bread of Life Anglican Church of Ithaca, New York
  • Dr. Shira Weiss, who holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Philosophy and has taught at Yeshiva University.