photo of Jason Mokhtarian

Jason Mokhtarian

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Sycamore Hall 334


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2011

Research Interests

Professional Biography

I am a scholar of ancient Judaism with a particular interest in the Jews of Persia in early and late antiquity. I received an M.A. in Divinity in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago, and a M.A. in Ancient Iranian Studies and Ph.D. in Early and Late Antique Judaism from the University of California, Los Angeles. I teach courses on various topics in the history of Judaism, such as “Torah, Temple, and God in Ancient Judaism,” “Rabbinic Judaism: Literature and Beliefs,” “Introduction to Jewish History: From the Bible to Spanish Expulsion,” and “Introduction to Judaism.” My primary areas of research include the Talmud in its Iranian context, narratives in rabbinic literature, Jewish identity and culture in ancient Persia, Sasanian history and religions, and Middle Persian literature.

I am currently researching the impact of Persian civilization on rabbinic culture as expressed in the Babylonian Talmud, the vast compendium of Jewish law and lore that the sages of late antiquity produced while living in the Sasanian empire. Through a comparison of talmudic and Middle Persian sources, my current research contextualizes the Babylonian rabbinic movement within its wider socio-cultural milieu and gauges the prospects and limits of the integration of ancient Iranian studies into talmudic studies, two historically distinct disciplines. My dissertation, entitled Rabbinic Portrayals of Persia: A Study of Babylonian Rabbinic Culture in its Sasanian Context, examines the extent to which ancient Persia, as both a real historical force and imaginary interlocutor, played a role in the formation of Babylonian rabbinic identity and authority.

I am also in the process of co-editing a special volume of the journal Iranian Studies: Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies on religious interaction in late Sasanian and early Islamic Iran.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


"Empire and Authority in Sasanian Babylonia: The Rabbis and King Shapur in Dialogue," Jewish Studies Quarterly, Volume 19.2 (2012), 148-180.

“Rabbinic Depictions of the Achaemenid King Cyrus the Great: The Babylonian Esther Midrash (bMeg. 10b-17a) in its Iranian Context,” The Talmud in its Iranian Context, eds. Carol Bakhos and M. Rahim Shayegan (Mohr Siebeck: Tübingen, 2010), 112-139.


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