photo of Jason Mokhtarian

Photo Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests

Finalist, National Jewish Book Award
Scholarship category

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

Out in July 2015

Find my complete cv here.

Jason Mokhtarian

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Director of Olamot: Center for Scholarly and Cultural Exchange with Israel

Adjunct Professor, History, Central Eurasian Studies, Ancient Studies, Islamic Studies, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Sycamore Hall 334


Ph.D., Late Antique Judaism, UCLA, 2011

M.A., Ancient Iranian Studies, UCLA, 2007

M.A., History of Judaism, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2004

B.A./A.M., English and Religious Studies, University of Chicago, 2001

Research Interests

Professional Biography

I am a historian of Judaism with a particular interest in the Jews of ancient Persia. Most of my research focuses on contextualizing the Talmud in its broader Persian-Sasanian milieu. On this topic, I have published numerous articles as well as the book Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran (University of California Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the category of scholarship. In general, my research draws from a range of Jewish and Persian sources in order to interrogate the ways in which the Babylonian Jews were influenced by the other religions and cultures in the Sasanian empire. Building on this idea, my current book project examines Talmudic texts about illness and healing and their relationship to the non-rabbinic world. In addition to this book, I am also in the early phases of a long-term book project on the history of the Jews of Persia from antiquity to the present. At Indiana University I teach both undergraduate and graduate students in a range of subjects in Jewish and Iranian studies and serve as the director of the Olamot Center.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


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


“Excommunication in Jewish Babylonia: Comparing Bavli Mo‘ed Qaṭan 14b-17b and the Aramaic Bowl Spells in a Sasanian Context.” Harvard Theological Review 108, No. 4 (Oct., 2015)

“The Boundaries of an Infidel in Zoroastrianism: A Middle Persian Term of Otherness for Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” Iranian Studies 48 (2015): 99-115

“Authority and Empire in Sasanian Babylonia: The Rabbis and King Shapur in Dialogue,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 19, No. 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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