J. Edward Wright is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism and served as the Director of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona from 2000 to 2023. Wright received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and did additional graduate study at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Harvard Divinity School.
Prof. Wright has received several national and international research fellowships, including a Yad Hanadiv/Barecha (Rothschild) Foundation Fellowship at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Wright has been a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, Duke University, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the immediate past President of the W. F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, and a past President of the Society of Biblical Literature, Pacific Coast Region. He also serves as a Co-Editor of The Bible and Interpretation website.
Dr. Wright’s area of expertise is early Jewish history and religion with particular interest in early Jewish apocryphal texts. These texts shed light on the non-traditional aspects of early Jewish thought and culture, and through his research Dr. Wright hopes to depict more accurately the rich diversity of Early Judaism. He has written many scholarly and popular articles and is the author or editor of five scholarly volumes.
The Early History of Heaven (Oxford University Press, 2000) traces the origin and development of the images of the heavenly realm in the ancient Near East and early Judaism and Christianity. The Association of College and Research Libraries and the American Library Association’s journal Choice recognized this book as one of “The Outstanding Academic Books” for 2000.
Baruch ben Neriah: From Biblical Scribe to Apocalyptic Seer (University of South Carolina Press, 2003) examines the evolution of a biblical figure whose legacy grew from that of a scribe who edited or wrote the Book of Jeremiah to that of an inspired sage who was granted a tour of heaven itself. This book illumines how the different portrayals of Baruch reveal the leadership models and religious values treasured by various early Jewish and Christian communities.
In 2002 Wright edited a volume of scholarly essays assessing the work of the celebrated Syro-Palestinian archaeologist and biblical scholar William F. Albright. This volume, "The House that Albright Built," appeared as a special issue of the journal Near Eastern Archaeologist published by the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Wright also co-edited two other scholarly books.
- Echoes of Many Texts: Reflections on Jewish and Christian Traditions—Essays in Honor of Lou H. Silberman. Edited by William G. Dever and J. Edward Wright. Brown University Judaic Studies 313. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997.
- Confronting the Past: Archaeological and Historical Essays in Honor of William G. Dever. Edited by Seymour Gitin, J. Edward Wright, and J. P. Dessel. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2006.
He is also a co-editor with Jennie Ebeling, Mark Elliott, and Paul V. M. Flesher of The Old Testament in Archaeology and History (Baylor University Press, 2017).
Dr. Wright teaches courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level and regards teaching as one of his most important responsibilities. His reputation as an inspiring teacher and dynamic lecturer draw many to his university courses and public lectures. In recognition of his teaching Prof. Wright received “The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences’ Most Distinguished Teaching Award.” He also has won the University’s two highest teaching awards. Following a demanding review, the University’s faculty awarded Wright the “Leicester and Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Award.” The students have also honored Wright’s teaching by awarding him the “Five Star Teaching Award.” This award, which is given by the Honors College on behalf of the entire student body, is the highest teaching award given by the students of The University of Arizona.