Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Maurice Amado Foundation Fellowship

Research Topic

Ideology and Law: Judeo-Arabic Philosophical Biblical Exegesis of the Geonim


Haggai Ben-Shammai is one of the world’s leading scholars of Karaism and Judeo-Arabic culture. He has published critical editions, commentaries, and articles on works by the most important Judeo-Arabic and Karaite thinkers including Saadia Gaon, Judah ha-Levi, Yefet ben Eli and Maimonides and has trained a generation of scholars working in the field of Judeao-Arabic studies. Professor Ben-Shammai serves as director of the Center for Judaeo-Arabic Studies and the Karaite Project at the Ben Zvi Institute. He is also co-director of the Center for Biblical and Judaic Studies at the State University in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Yeshiva University, and Clare Hall, Cambridge University, where he is a life member. Professor Ben-Shammai is currently the Ellie and Herbert D. Katz Distinguished Fellow at Penn’s Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.



Encouraging a broad view of Islamic societies and fostering new approaches to their religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity.


Examining the various modes of scriptural interpretation in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.


Examining the multivalent relationship between law and spirituality in Ancient Near Eastern, biblical, and Jewish contexts.


Delving into the meaning of modernity beyond the European, American, and Israeli contexts, looking instead to North Africa, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central and South Asia.