Michael Coogan, Ph.D.
(Lecturer, Harvard Divinity School)
3.3 – Aliens & Sacred Places (8.11.11)
3.14 – Aliens & the Undead (10.26.11)
6.15 – Faces of the Gods (7.11.14)
Michael D. Coogan is lecturer on Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School, Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum, editor-in-chief of Oxford Biblical Studies Online, and professor emeritus of religious studies at Stonehill College. He has also taught at Fordham University, Boston College, Wellesley College, and the University of Waterloo (Ontario). Coogan has also participated in and directed archaeological excavations in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Egypt, and has lectured widely.
Education and honors
Coogan was raised as Roman Catholic and for 10 years was a Jesuit.
Coogan holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, 1971. In 2000, he received Stonehill’s Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his scholarship and teaching.
One of the leading biblical scholars in the United States, he is the author of The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible, and Oxford Biblical Studies Online, and a contributor to such standard reference works as The Encyclopedia of Religion, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Other projects that he conceived, edited and collaborated on include The Oxford Companion to the Bible, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions, and The Oxford History of the Biblical World. One work is published by Twelve Books and titled God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says, published in 2010.In the later, Coogan aims to expand human freedom and justice while giving secondary instruction to Christians on the proper use of the Bible. He quotes St. Paul in regard to the failure to mention the female disciples in the list of faithful who saw the Risen Christ by noting that the empty tomb story in the Gospels might be a myth and inserted later. He states “The text is not, except perhaps in the abstract, intrinsically authoritative: it derives its authority from the community.” He favors “thinking of the Bible in a more nuanced way than simply as the literal word of God” and identifies the Bible as “one foundational text in American society” which along with our Constitution must be interpreted critically. The purpose of “God and Sex” is weaved jointly with the faithful and the secular in mind. 
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version 5th Edition
For over 50 years students, professors, clergy, and general readers have relied on The New Oxford Annotated Bible as an unparalleled authority in Study Bibles. This fifth edition of the Annotated remains the best way to study and understand the Bible at home or in the classroom. This thoroughly revised and substantially updated edition contains the best scholarship informed by recent discoveries and anchored in the solid Study Bible tradition.
· Introductions and extensive annotations for each book by acknowledged experts in the field provide context and guidance.
· Introductory essays on major groups of biblical writings – Pentateuch, Prophets, Gospels, and other sections – give readers an overview that guides more intensive study.
· General essays on history, translation matters, different canons in use today, and issues of daily life in biblical times inform the reader of important aspects of biblical study.
· Maps and diagrams within the text contextualize where events took place and how to understand them.
· Color maps give readers the geographical orientation they need for understanding historical accounts throughout the Bible.
· Timelines, parallel texts, weights and measures, calendars, and other helpful tables help navigate the biblical world.
· An extensive glossary of technical terms demystifies the language of biblical scholarship.
· An index to the study materials eases the way to the quick location of information.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible, with twenty new essays and introductions and others–as well as annotations–fully revised, offers the reader flexibility for any learning style. Beginning with a specific passage or a significant concept, finding information for meditation, sermon preparation, or academic study is straightforward and intuitive.
A volume that users will want to keep for continued reference, The New Oxford Annotated Bible continues the Oxford University Press tradition of providing excellence in scholarship for the general reader. Generations of users attest to its status as the best one-volume Bible reference tool for any home, library, or classroom.
The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures 4th Edition
Lucidly written by leading biblical scholars Michael D. Coogan and Cynthia R. Chapman, this balanced, engaging, and up-to-date introduction to the Hebrew scriptures distills the best of current scholarship. Employing the narrative chronology of the Bible itself and the history of the ancient Near East as a framework, Coogan and Chapman cover all the books of the Hebrew Bible, along with the deuterocanonical books included in the Bible used by many Christians. They work from a primarily historical and critical methodology but also introduce students to literary analysis and other interpretive strategies.
* Chapter pedagogy includes chapter previews and summaries, key terms, a glossary, questions for review and discussion, and suggestions for further reading
* Two introductory chapters–one on the composition of the Old Testament and one on the history and geography of the ancient Near East and how it influenced the Hebrew Bible–provide students with the context necessary to analyze the biblical texts
* Strategically placed text boxes address issues that often puzzle readers of the Bible, provide models of interpretation of particular texts, and discuss their significance for Judaism and Christianity
* A strong visual program includes charts, photographs, line drawings, maps, and a color insert on Jerusalem in biblical times
Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition
The texts from ancient Ugarit are among the most important modern discoveries for understanding the Bible. For more than thirty years, Stories from Ancient Canaan has been recognized as a highly authoritative and readable presentation of the principal Canaanite myths and epics discovered at Ugarit. This fully revised edition takes into account advances in the reading, understanding, and interpretation of these stories since 1978. It also includes two additional texts, expanded introductions, and illustrations. Coogan and Smith have collaborated to bring this classic up to date in order to provide accessible and accurate translations of these texts for a new generation of students.
A Reader of Ancient Near Eastern Texts: Sources for the Study of the Old Testament
In A Reader of Ancient Near Eastern Texts: Sources for the Study of the Old Testament, leading biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan presents a collection of texts that introduce students to the larger world surrounding the Old Testament. Dating from the third millennium BCE to the turn of the era, the readings have been carefully selected from the most accurate sources and arranged by genre and place of origin. They provide historical correlations to people and events mentioned in the Bible; parallels to biblical genres, motifs, institutions, and concepts; and windows into the lives of ordinary people. The texts are enhanced by chapter and reading introductions, extensive biblical references, and illustrations.
God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says
The Bible is full of narratives about sexual encounters, and modern-day readers have shown a widespread interest in what, exactly, it says about the subject. Scholars have turned their attention to the rigorous examination of biblical texts from historical, theological, and ethical perspectives.
Still, many clergy and lay people continue to look upon these words (even the most cryptic, confusing, and bizarre ones) as authoritative literal statements. In addition, these misinterpreted texts are constantly used to “legislate morality” and to promote “family values”–selectively and misleadingly twisting what is written.
As it stands, the gulf between the scholarly understandings of these texts and their popular appropriation today is a large one. Before the Bible can be applied to contemporary issues, it is vitally important that we take a careful look at what the Bible itself says– placing it in the contexts of the social worlds in which it was written. To know what the Bible really means, we must first actually determine what it meant when it was written, and apply this to the lives we lead, here and now. This is the mission of GOD AND SEX.
God’s Favorites: Judaism, Christianity, and the Myth of Divine Chosenness
A noted biblical scholar explores how the claim of divine choice has been used from ancient times to the present to justify territorial expansion and prejudice.
The Bible describes many individuals and groups as specially chosen by God. But does God choose at all? Michael Coogan explains the temporally layered and allusive storytelling of biblical texts and describes the world of the ancient Near East from which it emerged, laying bare the power struggles, the acts of vengeance, and persecutions made sacred by claims of chosenness.
Jumping forward to more modern contexts, Coogan reminds us how the self-designation of the Puritan colonizers of New England as God’s new Israel eventually morphed, in the United States, into the self-justifying doctrines of manifest destiny and American exceptionalism. In contemporary Israel, both fundamentalist Zionists and their evangelical American partners cite the Jews’ status as God’s chosen people as justification for taking land—for very different ends. Appropriated uncritically, the Bible has thus been used to reinforce exclusivity and superiority, with new myths based on old myths.
Finally, in place of the pernicious idea of chosenness, Coogan suggests we might instead focus on another key biblical concept: taking care of the immigrant and the refugee, reminding the reader of the unusual focus on the vulnerable in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text
The complex and surprising history of one of the world’s most famous texts
In this lively and provocative book, Michael Coogan guides readers into the ancient past to examine the iconic Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue. How, among all the laws reportedly given on Mount Sinai, did the Ten Commandments become the Ten Commandments? When did that happen? There are several versions of the Decalogue in the Old Testament, so how have different groups determined which is the most authoritative? Why were different versions created?
Coogan discusses the meanings the Ten Commandments had for audiences in biblical times and observes that the form of the ten proscriptions and prohibitions was not fixed—as one would expect since they were purported to have come directly from God—nor were the Commandments always strictly observed. In later times as well, Jews and especially Christians ignored and even rejected some of the prohibitions, although the New Testament clearly acknowledges the special status of the Ten Commandments. Today it is plain that some of the values enshrined in the Decalogue are no longer defensible, such as the ownership of slaves and the labeling of women as men’s property. Yet in line with biblical precedents, the author concludes that while a literal observance of the Ten Commandments is misguided, some of their underlying ideals remain valid in a modern context.
The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible
Offering a wealth of reliable information, The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible provides more than 300 articles that cover everyone from Adam and Eve to Jesus Christ and everywhere from the Garden of Eden to Golgotha and Gethsemane.
Readers will find fascinating, informative entries on virtually every major figure who walked across the biblical stage. Here are Hebrew Bible figures such as Cain and Abel, Noah and Methuselah, Abraham and Isaac, David and Goliath, Solomon and Sheba, Moses and Aaron, Naomi and Ruth, and Samson and Delilah. The New Testament is likewise well covered, with pieces on Peter and Paul, John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene, the apostles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot, and of course Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Articles also define groups of people who figure in the Bible, such as Angels, Archangels, and Demons, the Magi, the Tribes of Israel, and Women. Entries on the significant places of the Bible, both ancient and modern, include kingdoms and countries (Egypt, Assyria, Mesopotamia) and cities (Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Sodom and Gomorrah), as well as geographical features such as the Sea of Galilee and Mount Hebron. The guide includes a detailed index for ease of use, and 14 pages of color maps, providing an accurate, detailed portrait of the biblical world.
Here then is the first place to turn to find factual information on the people and places of Holy Scripture. Written by an international team of noted biblical experts, it is an essential addition to any family library as well as a useful, reliable resource for scholars and students.
The Illustrated Guide to World Religions
Graced with rich illustrations and written by a team of eminent scholars, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions presents a wealth of information on faiths around the world.
Each chapter in this volume examines one of seven major world religions–from Judaism to Christianity and from Islam to Buddhism–and contains information about its holidays and festivities, key historical and mythological figures, architectural styles, calendars, language, and important texts. The book deals with such issues as the afterlife, the role of women, the importance of saints, and the quest for higher wisdom. We discover, for instance, that Pure Land Buddhism–found mainly in China, Japan, and Tibet–holds that meditation on a particular deity at the moment of death will help insure rebirth into that deity’s celestial domain. In Judaism, on the other hand, the concept of an afterlife has never played a central role. Uniquely organized in a manner that encourages comparative analysis, the book’s lavish full-color art, maps, and photographs all focus on faith in practice, in both elaborate ritual and everyday life.
Religion continues to be a monumental force in a rapidly changing world. Whether tracing the origins of your own faith or attempting to satisfy a curiosity about religious practices an ocean away, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions will be a fascinating and indispensable guide to the complexity of the world’s living religions.
Eastern Religions: Confucianism, Shinto, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism
This fascinating volume provides a concise, illustrated introduction to five of the great religious traditions of the world–Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto.
Buddhism, one of the world’s great religious traditions, attracts millions of modern-day followers. Hinduism, one of the most ancient of all belief systems, is increasingly well known in the West through expatriate Indian communities. Taoism has been an important influence on Western thinking, especially through the impact of the Tao Te Ching. Confucianism, less metaphysical in its principles, emphasizes family values and the role of the individual within the state. And Shinto, distinctively Japanese in character, is the most animistic of the great religions, based on a belief in numerous individual spirits. The contributors explore a great variety of topics within these religions, including: the life of the Buddha; karma and rebirth; inspiring teachers and gurus; the life of Confucius; sacred Taoist texts; the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata; holy landscapes, shrines, and festivals; enlightenment; and–for all the faiths–the spiritual and ethical teachings, art and architecture, sacred writings, ritual and ceremony, and death and the afterlife.
Also included are extracts from or summaries of historical texts, with author commentaries that explain the significance of each piece and place in its full context. Authoritative and accessible, Eastern Religions provides a gateway for all those in the West who wish to move one step closer to the spirit of the East.
Scripture and Other Artifacts: Essays on the Bible and Archaeology in Honor of Philip J. King
This important volume focuses on the contribution of excavated material to the interpretation of biblical texts. Here, both practicing archaeologists and biblical scholars who have been active in field work demonstrate through their work that archaeological data and biblical accounts are complementary in the study of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and Christianity. Illustrations.
The Oxford Guide to Ideas & Issues of the Bible
The Bible has been a rich source of inspiration for two thousand years, one of the great wellsprings of Western civilization. In The Oxford Guide to Ideas and Issues of the Bible, dozens of eminent scholars explore how the Bible has influenced our religious, ethical, artistic, and philosophical traditions.
Here are more than two hundred alphabetically-arranged entries that explore key aspects of the Bible and its teachings. The contributors examine what the Bible says about timeless issues such as adultery and abortion, divorce and drunkenness, marriage and murder, suffering and temptation; and they discuss religious concepts found in the Bible, ranging from incarnation, sin, and grace, to baptism, ethics, and the Holy Spirit. The book also considers the wider intellectual world, examining the Bible’s influence on Western law and medicine and it looks at how the Bible has been viewed by thinkers such as Marx and Freud and by fields such as social science and archaeology. Thoughtful essays also analyze the Bible’s influence on human creativity, in areas such as music, dance, art, and literature (the latter includes an extensive discussion of the impact of the Bible on American writing, from Cotton Mather to Saul Bellow). There is even an article on everyday expressions from the Bible, ranging from “the love of money is the root of all evil” to such common sayings as “the skin of one’s teeth,” “at one’s wit’s end,” and “you can’t take it with you.”
The Oxford Guide to Ideas and Issues of the Bible brings together a wealth of insight into the Bible’s impact on our culture. It is an essential addition to any school or home library.
The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond: Essays in Memory of James A. Sauer
James A. Sauer was for many years the Director of the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan. This volume honors him, with more than 50 contributions from colleagues and friends.