Ph.D., New York University
Fields: Hebrew Bible, Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Research Leave Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
Mahri Leonard-Fleckman was trained in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East by NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies (Ph.D. 2014). She is also a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (B.A. in Spanish and English Literature) and Union Theological Seminary in New York (M.Div.). After college, Leonard-Fleckman served in the Peace Corps Dominican Republic for two years. While in graduate school, she taught in the Religious Studies Department at Marymount High School in New York and led summer immersion trips for high school students to the Dominican Republic. Before transitioning to the College of the Holy Cross, Leonard-Fleckman was an assistant professor at the University of Scranton and at Providence College. She teaches a variety of courses on the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, including classes that cross-list with Classics; Environmental Studies; and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.
Leonard-Fleckman specializes in ancient Israelite society and politics within the context of the Ancient Near East (especially the Iron Age northern Levant and the Neo-Assyrian empire). She also specializes in literary history and the development of the Hebrew Bible. She works at the intersection of these areas to foster her deep, ongoing interest in the relationship between literature, history and society.
Her current book project (Landscaping Language: Interpreting Borders and Identities in the Iron Age Shephelah) engages with archaeology, anthropology, literary and spatial theories to explore assumed notions of identities and borders in the Shephelah (lowlands) of Israel in the Iron Age. This area has become one of the most intensely excavated regions in the world, and archaeological evidence reveals it to have been a complex social and political landscape throughout the Iron Age. There is no clear consensus on how to reconstruct or categorize people and social groups in this region, and categories derive mainly from the Bible and Neo-Assyrian witnesses. The Shephelah therefore offers a unique opportunity to reexamine the ancient written records and their diverse interpretations of social landscape—including the identities and social groups that shaped geography and gave it meaning—as well as contemporary discussions of identity, boundary construction and border crossing.
Leonard-Fleckman also engages in public scholarship and works to bridge scholarship with contemporary religious concerns and Jewish-Christian dialogue. She has published in Commonweal and America Magazine, is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic (Liturgical Press), and is currently working on a three-volume series called Ponder: Contemplative Bible Study (Liturgical Press, 2020, 2021 and 2022).
- Ponder: Contemplative Bible Study, Year B. Liturgical Press, 2020.
- With Alice Laffey. The Book of Ruth. Wisdom Commentary Series. Liturgical Press, 2017.
- The House of David: Between Political Formation and Literary Revision. Fortress Press, 2016.
- "Julian of Norwich believed ‘All will be well.’ Would she say so today?” America Magazine. June 24 (2020).
- "Song of Plagues: How Psalm 91 Helps Us Pray during Pandemic.” Commonweal. April 18 (2020).
- "Blurred Lines: The Enigma of Iron Age Timnah.” Biblical Archaeology Review. July-Oct (2019): 79-83.
- "Life in the Ruins. Reading the Hebrew Bible in a Time of Crisis.” Commonweal. May 4 (2019).
- "Scribal Innovation, Education, and the Female Body in Ezekiel and Proverbs.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 35/1 (2019): 35-50.
- “The House of X Formula in Assyrian Documentation and Aramaean Social Structure.” Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 7/2 (2018): 140-171.
- “Utterance of David, the Anointed of the God of Jacob (2 Sam 23:1-7).” Journal of Biblical Literature 137/3 (2018): 667-683.
- "Stones from Heaven and Celestial Tricks: The Battle at Gibeon in Joshua 10." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 79/3 (2017): 385-401.
- “Samson and Our Reactions to the Strong Man.” Word & World, 37/3 (2017): 217-225.
- "King David and the Illusory Judah." The Bible and Interpretation, May (2016).
- “Judah Bookends: The Priority of Israel and Literary Revision in the David Narrative.” Vetus Testamentum 65/3 (2015): 401-413.