Jacob Howland is McFarlin professor of philosophy (emeritus) at the University of Tulsa. His research focuses on ancient Greek philosophy, history, epic, and tragedy; the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud; Kierkegaard; and literary and philosophical responses to the Holocaust and Soviet totalitarianism.
The language of Homer delights in illuminating the world at length. The language of the Bible, by contrast, is compact, but fraught with the agitated flow of emotions.
The signal achievement of Genesis is to find heroism not just on the field of battle—where Odysseus, too, excels—but on the hardscrabble ground of everyday life.
Why, in the Hebrew Bible and the Odyssey alike, does the overweening human ambition to become somebody end in lowly banishment and dispersion?
What do the Hebrew Bible and Homer have to say about clothes?
The Hebrew Bible and the Odyssey are both preoccupied by the moral and political consequences of ungoverned sexuality and aggression.
Despite extensive similarities, few readers have studied Genesis together with the Odyssey in hopes of illuminating the human condition. What lies waiting to be discovered?
Jacob Howland drops by our studio to talk about the ways in which Greek thought can illuminate the Talmud—and vice-versa.