Charles Isbell

Charles Isbell

Associate Professor, Retired

Ph.D.: Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University, 1973



Charles Isbell studied under Cyrus Gordon at Brandeis University, receiving his Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies in 1973. In the following years, he taught at the University of Massachusetts, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit. In 1996, he joined the Religious Studies faculty at LSU. Dr. Isbell retired from LSU in May of 2022.

Areas of Interest

Dr. Isbell specializes in Hebrew Scripture and Judaism. He formerly served as Director of Jewish Studies (2002-2007) and was editor of H-JUDAIC, the electronic journal for Professors of Judaica from 1998-2008. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Women in Judaism and The Bible and Interpretation.

Courses Offered

  • REL 1004 Introduction to the Old Testament
  • REL 2120 The Holocaust
  • REL 3100 Judaism
  • REL 3101 American Judaism
  • REL 3104 Hebrew Prophets
  • HEBR/REL 1001/2, 2003/4 Hebrew Language Sequence

Awards and Honors

  •  LSU Faculty Honor Roll, Spring 2002
  • University of Massachusetts Master Teacher, 1975

Selected Publications

For a complete list of books and articles authored by Dr. Isbell, see his personal website:


  • How Jews and Christians Interpret Their Sacred Texts: A Study in Transvaluation. Wipf & Stock, 2014
  • Sermons From a Southern Rabbi. Wipf & Stock, 2009. 
  • Corpus of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls. Wipf & Stock Reprint, 2008.
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew: A Teacher's Manual. Warren Center, PA., Sahgri-La Publications, 2003.
  • The Function of Exodus Motifs in Biblical Literature: Theological Didactic Drama. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. Warren Center, PA, Shangri-La Publications, 2002.
  • God's Scribes: How the Bible Became the Bible. Warren Center, PA., Shangri-La Publications, 1999.
  • Malachi: A Study Guide Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980. Second Edition, 1985. 
  • Corpus of the Armaic Incantation Bowls. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series, 17. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975. 
  • Biblical Hebrew: A Beginner's Manual (with H.E. Finley). Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1975. Second Edition Revised, 1981. Third Edition, 1993.

Articles in Academic Journals

  • "Essays Introducing a Jewish Perspective on the Gospel of John," Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2:1 (Spring, 2020), pp. 17-26.
  • "Saul the Sadducee? A Rabbinical Thought Experiment," Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 1:2 (Fall, 2019), pp. 85-119. 
  • "Persia and Yehud," The Old Testament in Archaeology and History, Editors: Ebeling, Wright, Elliot, Flesher (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2017), pp 529-556. 
  • "Paul and Judaism," Bible and Interpretation, July, 2017.
  • "Where Was Adam?" Journal of the central Conference of American Rabbis (Summer, 2017) 23-29.
  • "Family Values and Biblical Marriage: Spanning the Time Barrier," Studies in Jewish Civilization 27 (2016): 45-55.
  • "The Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity, 'To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven': Toward a Partnership Between Jews and Christians," Bible and Interpretation, 2016.
  • "Emic or Etic? Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures," Bible and Interpretation, 2015.
  • "Basic Rules of Hebrew Pronunciation," Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Supplement, 2012.
  • "Learning the Hebrew Alphabet," Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Supplement, 2012.
  • "Humor in the Bible," Studies in Jewish Civilization 22 (2011): 1-11. 
  • "Amulets," Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Eds. Hans-Josef Klauck, Bernard MGinn, Paul Mendes-Flohr, Choon-Leong Seow, Hermann Spieckermann, Eric Ziolkowski. Walter de Gruyter Press.
  • "Creation, Science, and Genesis," Bible and Interpretation, December 2010.
  • "Abortion, Jewish Law, and the US Constitution," Bible and Interpretation, October, 2009.
  • "Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Rabbis", Bible and Interpretation, November, 2009.
  • "Another VIew of Homosexuality," Bible and Interpretation, December, 2009.
  • "The Limmûdîm in the Book of Isaiah," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 34.1 (September 2009): 99-109. 
  • "From Yahwism to Judahism," Bible and Interpretation, December, 2008
  • "The Musical Notations in the Book of Psalms," Studies in Jewish Civilization 19 (2008): 11-26.
  • "Love in the Palace," Studies in Jewish Civilization 18: (2008): 85-98. 
  • "Zoroastrianism and Biblical Religion," Jewish Bible Quarterly 34/3 (2006) 143-154. 
  • "Sleep From the Eyes, Slumber From the Eyelids." Jewish Bible Quarterly 34/1 (2006) 39-46. 
  • "A Biblical Midrash on David and Goliath," Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 20/2 (2006): 259-263. 
  • "The Hebrew Teacher: Guru, Drill Instructor, or Role Model?" SBL Forum, October 22, 2005.
  • "The Jehoash Inscription" (with Stuart Irvine), Bible and Interpretation, 2005.
  • "Nice Jewish Girls: Liquor, Sex, and Power in Antiquity," Studies in Jewish Civilization 14 (2004): 23-32.
  • "Minimalism: The Debate Continues - Part II," Jewish Bible Quarterly 32/4 (2004) 211-23.
  • "Minimalism: The Debate Continues - Part I," Jewish Bible Quarterly 32/3 (2004) 143-147. 
  • "'History' and 'Writing' in Biblical Literature," Bible and Interpretation, 2004.
  • "Some 'Earthy' Dimensions of the Spiritual in Jewish Liturgy," Studies in Jewish Civilization 13 (2003): 227-238.
  • "Micah 6: 1-8," Studies in Jewish Civilization 13 (2003): 45-54. 
  • "Deuteronomy's Definition of Jewish Learning," Jewish Bible Quarterly 31/2 (2003) 109-116.
  • "Modern Judaism and the Haredim: Historical Issues in the Current Debate." Textures and Meanings: Thirty Years of Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, 2003.
  • "Comments on the Davies-Dever Exchange," Bible and Interpretation, 2003. 
  • "Mandatory Learning of Islam in Educational Institutions" (with Judith Jacobsen). Position Paper for Scholars for Peace in the Middle Esat. 2002.
  • "The Liturgical Function of Exodus 33:16-34:26," Jewish Bible Quarterly 29/1 (2001) 27-31. 
  • "The Feminine Touch in the Legend of Moses," Women in Judaism, January (2000).
  • "YHWH and the Gods of Egypt," Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Summer, 1998: 84-99.
  • "Exodus 1-2 in the Context of Exodus 1-14: Story Lines and Key Words," Art and Meaning: Rhetoric in Biblical Literature 37-61. Edited by Clines, Gunn, and Hauser. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1982.
  • "Why Jonah is Read on Yom Kippur," Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Summer, 1998: 84-99. 
  • "Rhetorical Criticism and Jeremiah VII 1- VIII 3" (with Michael Jackson), Vetus Testamentum 30 (1980) 20-26. 
  • "The Story of the Aramaic Magical Incantation Bowls," Biblical Archaeologist 41/1 (1978) 5-16. 
  • "Another Look at Amos 5:26," Journal of Biblical Literature 97/1 (1978) 97-99. 
  • "2 Kings 22:3-23:24 and Jeremiah 36: A Stylistic Comparison," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 8 (1978), 33-45. 
  • "Initial 'Alef-Yod Interchange and Selected Biblical Passages," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 37 (1978) 227-236.
  • "The Divine Name אהיה As a Symbol of Presence in Israelite Tradition, Hebrew Annual Review 3/2  (1978) 18-19 101-118. 
  • "Does Matthew's Gospel Proclaim Mary's Virginity?" Biblical Archaeology Review 3/2 (1978) 18-19, 52.
  • "A Reply to Pearl Borow," Biblical Archaeology Review 3/4 (1978) 50-53.
  • "A Note on Amos 1:1," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 36/3 (1977) 213-214.
  • "The Origins of Prophetic Frenzy and Ecstatic Utterance in the Old Testament World," Wesleyan Theological Journal 11 (1976) 62-80.
  • "Two New Aramaic Incantation Bowls," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 223 (1976) 15-23.
  • "Glossalalia and Propheteialalia: Linguistic Analysis of 1 Corinthians 14," Wesleyan Theological Journal 10 (1975) 15-22.
  • "Some Cryptograms in the Aramaic Magic Bowls," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 33/4 (1974) 405-407.