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Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman

Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Law
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Affiliated Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and History

Phil Lieberman is Vanderbilt's specialist in rabbinic literature. He is also an historian of medieval Jewry, particularly Jews in Muslim lands. His research focuses on the social, economic and legal history of the Jewish community of North Africa and the Levant, particularly as documented in manuscript materials from the Cairo Geniza. He serves on the advisory board of the Cairo Geniza Project at Princeton University and is an editor and contributor to The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (edited by Norman Stillman). He joined Vanderbilt's faculty in 2009 from the faculty of New York University, where he taught classes in Jewish Studies and in Islamic and Middle East Studies. His book, The Business of Identity: Jews, Muslims, and Economic Life in Medieval Egypt, published in 2014 by Stanford University Press, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His current project examines Jewish urbanization in Iraq under the early Abbasids (750-1258 CE) and the migration of these Jews to the Islamic Mediterranean.

Area(s) of Expertise

Rabbinic literature, Jewish law and Islamic law

Representative Publications

  • "As a Father Shows Compassion for His Children: Ancient and Contemporary Perspectives on Judicial Empathy," 3 Journal of Law, Religion and State 239 (2014) (with Terry Maroney)
  • "What Historians Can Yield from Medieval Jewish Commercial Contracts," Jewish History (2015)
  • "Jewish Occupational Choice and Urbanization in Iraq under the Early Abbasids," 29 Jewish History 113 (2015)
    Full Text | PDF
  • "Legal Pluralism Among the Court Records of Medieval Egypt," 63 Bulletin d'Etudes Orientales 79 (2014)
    Full Text | WWW
  • The Business of Identity: Jews, Muslims, and Economic Life in Medieval Egypt, Stanford University Press (2014)
  • A Jew's Best Friend?: The Image of the Dog Throughout Jewish History, Sussex Academic Press, 2013 (with Rakefet Zalashik)
  • "Commercial Forms and Legal Norms in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt," 30(4) Law & History Review 1007 (2012)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Contractual Partnerships in the Geniza and the Relation between Islamic Law and Practice," 54(5) Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 646 (2011)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Legal Writing in Medieval Jewish Cairo," in Sacred Source: Genizah Studies in Honour of Professor Stefan C. Reif, Siam Bhayro and Benjamin Outhwaite (eds.) (Leiden: Brill, 2010)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "The Women's Right to Choose: An Unsigned Responsum from Ottoman Safed," 17(2) Jewish Studies Quarterly 99 (2010)
    Full Text | BEPRESS