Below are more detailed descriptions of Jason's research interests.
History, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, and Theology of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is an anthology of texts written over the course of more than 800 years. As the sacred Scriptures of the early Jewish and Christian communities, the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible has been transmitted and translated for believing communities around the world for over two millennia. The meaning of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible exists at many levels. In light of this reality, I am interested in understanding these texts in terms their ancient Near Eastern context, as witnesses to the history and faith of the ancient Israelites and early Jewish communities, and as sacred Scripture for the Christian church.
Children in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East
Children were a significant demographic in the ancient Near East. By many estimates, children made up as much as thirty-percent, or more, of the population in the ancient world and were valuable to their families and cultures in social, cultural, economic, and ritual terms. However, children were also a very vulnerable population. The vulnerability of children was especially prominent during times of crisis. I research the social realities of children in ancient Near Eastern warfare, the ways children were depicted in texts and iconography from the ancient Near East, as well as children's material remains in archaeological contexts.
Iconography of the ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was a visual world. From images on cylinder seals to monumental statues and reliefs, images were used to communicate, intimidate, and represent the divine. In fact, writing began in Mesopotamia and Egypt as pictures. I am interested in the ways images were constructed in the ancient Near East, how images communicated to ancient audiences, rhetoric in images, the relationship between visual images and verbal images in texts, and the transformation of images and motifs across cultures.
War in the ancient Near East
War was the preeminent crisis in the ancient world. War and its residual effects pervaded life for those in the ancient Near East, and influenced everything from technology to theology. In ancient Israel, war influenced the formation of the Israelites as an ethnic and religious group, the rise of kingship, the formation of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, and the Assyrian and Babylonian war machines brought the end to the states of Israel and Judah. The Israelites' beliefs about their national deity, YHWH, and Israelite theology was heavily influenced by war. I research warfare in the ancient Near East, and am highly interested in how warfare shaped the theology of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.
Having been trained in RTI by Dr. Marilyn Lundberg of the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California, I recently conducted an RTI project at both the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. For this project I imaged several Neo-Assyrian reliefs depicting children in deportation scenes. RTI is an imaging technique that, once the images are processed, allows users to manipulate virtual light sources in order to more clearly observe texture and other features of an image. To learn more, see the West Semitic Research Project website.