photo of Jason Mokhtarian

Photo Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests

Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests:
The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran

Out in July 2015

Find my complete cv here.

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 historian of Ancient Judaism with a particular interest in the Jews of Babylonia in the Second Temple and Rabbinic periods. I received a M.A. in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a M.A. in Ancient Iranian Studies and Ph.D. in Early and Late Antique Judaism from UCLA’s department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. My current areas of research include the Talmud in its Iranian context, Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, the Jewish Aramaic bowls from Sasanian Mesopotamia, and the political and cultural history of the Jews of Persia. My forthcoming book, entitled Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran (University of California Press), is a study of the Babylonian Talmud’s portrayals of Persians which brings into mutual fruition the academic disciplines of Talmudic Studies and Ancient Iranology. I have published or forthcoming articles in the Jewish Studies Quarterly, Iranian Studies, and Harvard Theological Review, as well as several edited volumes, and am currently working on a monograph on the political tradition in ancient Judaism.

At Indiana, I teach courses in Jewish and Religious Studies on topics such as Rabbinic Literature, Late Antique Religions, Zoroastrianism, Jewish Magic, and the Jewish sacred canon.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran, (University of California Press, forthcoming July 2015).


“Excommunication in Jewish Babylonia: Comparing Bavli Mo‘ed Qaṭan 14b-17b and the Aramaic Bowls Spells in a Sasanian Context,” Harvard Theological Review (forthcoming).

“The Boundaries of an Infidel in Zoroastrianism: A Middle Persian Term of Otherness for Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” Iranian Studies (forthcoming, 2014).

“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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