UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Prof Willem Smelik

photo of willem smelik
Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic Literature


Tel: 020 7679 3590


Willem Smelik is Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic Literature at the department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, UCL, and editor of the journal Aramaic Studies. He has held fellowships from the Lady Davis foundation (Jerusalem), the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (Oxford), Harry Starr fellowship at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (London). He has published on Hebrew Bible, Aramaic dialects, Aramaic scriptural translations and early rabbinic literature, including Rabbis, Language and Translation in Late Antiquity (Cambridge 2013).

He is a current member of the editorial board of the Journal for the Study of Judaism (JSJ) and the JSJ Supplements (Leiden: Brill); the editorial board for the Studies in the Aramaic Interpretation of Scripture (SAIS), published by Brill); the Advisory Board of Textos y Estudios Cardenal Cisneros (TECC), published by the Consejo superior de investigaciones científicas (CSIC) on behalf of the Departamento de Filología Bíblica y de Oriente Antiguo (Madrid).


Professor Smelik's research focuses primarily on Hebrew and Aramaic literature from Ancient Israel to Late Antiquity. He has published monographs on the Jewish Aramaic Scriptural translations and the rabbinic views on language and translation. His current research focuses on:

  • Code-switching in early Jewish literature (Bilingual Rabbis, forthcoming in 2021)
  • The development of the Jewish-Aramaic dialects
  • Texts and virtual reality between anti-Semitism and anti-Christian polemics
  • No Ordinary Tongue: A history of Hebrew as the holy tongue


For the 2020/2021 year:

  • Ancient Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions
  • Introduction to the History and Literature of Ancient Israel

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