Laura Carlson Hasler

Laura Carlson Hasler

Assistant Professor, Religious Studies

Education

  • Ph.D., Yale University
  • M.Div., Yale Divinity School

Research interests

  • Texts, Textuality, and Historiography in Ancient Judaism
  • History of the Book
  • Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity
  • American Biblical Interpretation

About Laura Carlson Hasler

My research focuses on the relationship among texts, monumental spaces, and cultural power in Jewish antiquity. I am particularly interested in how Hellenistic Jews used texts to adopt and adapt symbols of empire to facilitate recovery.

My first book, Archival Historiography in Jewish Antiquity (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) argues that the form of Second Temple Jewish texts like Ezra-Nehemiah and the Greek editions of Esther are read best as archives. Scholars have often explained Ezra-Nehemiah’s frequent textual “disruptions” – its lengthy inventories, for example – as the result of sloppy historiography. Such disruptions, I argue, are actually textual seams that reveal an impulse to assemble an archive through citation within the pages of Jewish history, reassembling and protecting memory in contexts dominated by empires. I argue that the act of archiving is an expression of social power in colonized contexts. Though the archive is often considered to be an exclusively imperial instrument, I contend that the archive in Ezra-Nehemiah is a literary form that facilitates Jewish recovery after the losses of exile. More broadly, the project confronts contemporary discomfort with narrative disruption. I ask readers to think of abrupt citation not as a deficiency but rather as a dynamic sign of social cohesion among colonized groups.

My next projects continue this interrogation of the relationship among collections and imperial power in ancient Jewish contexts. I am interested in staging conversations that complicate the binaries of assimilation and resistance that are so prevalent in interpretations of Persian and Hellenistic-era biblical literature.

I am currently working on a book that explores the fascination with the reassembly of temple treasury spaces in Second Temple Jewish literature, and their related fantasies of divinely-executed plunder, taxation, and redistribution of wealth. This book will aim to chart new directions in biblical scholarship about the literary optics of economic power in antiquity and to spark fresh discussion of the role of textual authority in ancient as well as contemporary settings.

Journal articles & other publications

"The Cited Documents of Ezra-Nehemiah: Does Their Authenticity Matter?” Biblical Interpretation (2019).

“Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Zemah: Ideological Development in Early Postexilic Judah” Sibyls, Scriptures, and Scrolls: John Collins at Seventy JSJ Supplements. Eds. J. Baden, H. Najman, E. Tigchelaar; Leiden: Brill (2017).