Philosophy and World Religions

Faculty: John Burnight

Associate Professor of Religion

"I became interested in religion in a somewhat unusual way: through the study of modern Middle Eastern culture and politics. I was an International Relations major in college, and took two courses that changed my academic and career plans completely: one on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and another on contemporary Israeli literature. The professors of both courses said that to understand the material, it was important to know the religions involved, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So I started studying the Bible, and was fascinated by what I found. It was so much richer and more rewarding than I expected. I then started studying the languages of the Bible, Hebrew and Greek, and later Arabic and the Quran. Knowing the histories, ideas, and beliefs of the great monotheistic faiths isn't just useful for learning about the Middle East, though: it also helps us to understand the foundations of all of western culture and literature, the ideas that have shaped our society. Even if you thought Sunday School was boring, the Bible (and the Quran) can be a lot more interesting than you might think."


Bartlett 2093

(319) 273-7641


Ph.D., Hebrew Bible/Northwest Semitic Philology, University of Chicago

MA, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Chicago

BIS, International Relations and Psychology, University of Minnesota

Research and Teaching Interests:

Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Classical Hebrew poetry with a particular interest in the Book of Job

Regularly Taught Classes:Religions of the World, Old Testament, New Testament, Judaism and Islam
In Process:Currently working on articles on Biblical Hebrew lexicography, metaphors for death in Job Chapter 4, and allusions to other biblical books in Job Chapter 6.
Selected Publications:

"A New Interpretation of Job 6,5-7," Biblica 100.2 (2019): 272-281

“A Proposed New Etymology for ‘ap‘apy in Classical Hebrew,” Journal of Semitic Studies 62.1 (2017): 9-18

"Does Eliphaz Really Begin 'Gently'? An Intertextual Reading of Job 4:2-11," Biblica 95.3 (2014): 347-370.

"A New Translation and Interpretation of Job 5:5," Vetus Testamentum 64.4 (2014): 539-553.

"Job 5:7 as Eliphaz's Response to Job's 'Malediction' (3:3-10)," Journal of Biblical Literature, 133.1 (2014): 77-94.

"The 'Reversal' of Heilsgeschichte Themes in Job 3," in Reading Job Intertextually, eds. Katherine Dell and Will Kynes, (T&T Clark: 2012), 30-41.

Professional Awards:

2015, University Book and Supply Outstanding Teaching Award

2014, Excellence in Liberal Arts Core Teaching Award, University of Northern Iowa

2007-08, Fulbright-Hays Visiting Research Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem