Faculty in the Department of History

Nathaniel B. Levtow

Nathaniel B. Levtow

Associate Professor of History; Acting Director, Global Humanities and Religions

Office: LA 150
Email: nathaniel.levtow@umontana.edu
Fax: 406-243-5313 Office Hours:

Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-5:00 & by appointment.

Personal Summary

Nathaniel Levtow teaches courses on the ancient world and the history of religion in the College of Humanities and Sciences. His teaching and research interests span the history, religions, literature and archaeology of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean including Asia Minor, North Africa and Southern Europe from Neolithic prehistory to late antiquity. This includes the history of the Bible and biblical religions as well as ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria), Anatolia, Syria, Israel, Persia, Egypt and the Greco-Roman East including Hellenistic Egypt and Roman Arabia. His courses and publications explore the history of religions in the world’s first empires and examine the connections between religion, literature and politics from social, anthropological, comparative and cognitive scientific perspectives. He also has interests in historiography and modern theories of religion. He enjoys combining textual (literary) and visual (archaeological) evidence for the historical reconstruction of early civilizations, and is fascinated by the ways in which art, literature, religion and politics intersect in antiquity and modernity. His classes include “The First Historians,” “History of the Bible,” “Prophecy and History,” “Religion and Violence,” "Introduction to the Humanities," and “Origins of Western Religion.” His most recent article investigates curses written on ancient international treaties, and he is writing a book about the destruction of sacred texts.
After completing his BA in religious studies and physics at Middlebury College, Dr. Levtow received his MTS from Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Wolfson Fellow, and his PhD from Brown University, where he was awarded the Joukowsky Foundation Award for Best Dissertation in the Humanities. His subsequent book, Images of Others: Iconic Politics in Ancient Israel, examines the history and politics of iconoclasm (the strategic destruction of images) in the Bible and ancient West Asia. Before joining the UM faculty in 2006, he was a Doctoral Fellow at the Orion Center for Dead Sea Scrolls Research in Jerusalem and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. More recently, he was a visiting scholar in the Theology Faculty at Humboldt University of Berlin and a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, where he received the Berlin Prize. He is a Trustee of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, where he was a U.S. State Department Educational and Cultural Affairs Fellow, and his archaeological research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He served as first Director of the University of Montana’s Humanities Institute and is a recipient of the University’s Cox Educational Excellence Award for Teaching.

Levtow NEH-AAB on the Humanities


Field of Study

Ancient history; history of religion; biblical studies


Ph.D., Brown University; M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School; B.A., Middlebury College.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Lady Davis Fellow (Akkadian, Hebrew, Arabic), Orion Center Fellow (Dead Sea Scrolls research), Raoul Wallenberg Scholar (ancient and modern Middle East history).

Middlebury Language School: Mandarin Chinese.

Goethe Institute: German

Selected Publications

"Memorial (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament).” In Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception. Edited by C.Helmer,  S. McKenzie, T. Römer, et al. Walter DeGruyter, forthcoming.

“Cognitive Perspectives on Iconoclasm." In New Perspectives on Ritual Violence in the Hebrew Bible. Edited by S. M. Olyan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

“Monumental Inscriptions and the Ritual Representation of War.” In Warfare, Ritual, and Symbol in Biblical and Modern Contexts. Edited by B. Kelle, F. R. Ames and J. Wright. Ancient Israel and Its Literature. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014.

“Artifact Burial in the Ancient Near East.” Pages 141-51 in The One Who Sows Bountifully: Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers. Edited by C. J. Hodge, S. M. Olyan, D. Ullucci and E. Wasserman. Brown Judaic Studies. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013.

“Text Destruction and Iconoclasm in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East.” Pages 311–62 in Iconoclasm and Text Destruction in the Ancient Near East and Beyond. Edited by Natalie N. May. Oriental Institute Seminars 8. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2012. http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/ois/ois8.html

“Text Production and Destruction in Ancient Israel: Ritual and Political Dimensions.” Pages 111–39 in Social Theory and the Study of Israelite Religion: Essays in Retrospect and Prospect. Edited by S. M. Olyan. Society of Biblical Literature Resources for Biblical Study. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Images of Others: Iconic Politics in Ancient Israel. Biblical and Judaic Studies from the University of California, San Diego 11. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008. http://www.eisenbrauns.com/item/LEVIMAGES

“Abraham,” “Judah,” Jehoahaz,” “Manna.” In The Routledge Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religions. Edited by E. Orlin. New York: Rutledge, 2015.


Spring 2021:

HSTR 291 Early Christianity

HSTR 391 Prophecy and History

Selected courses: The First Historians; History of the Bible; Origins of Western Religion; Early Christianity; History of Judaism; Theory and Method in the Study of Religion; God, Gods and Goddesses in the Biblical World; Genesis: History, Literature, Religion; Religion and Violence; Prophecy and History.


Society of Biblical Literature, European Association of Biblical Studies, American Schools of Oriental Research, American Academy of Religion.

Research Interests

Biblical studies; history of religion; iconoclasm; text destruction; theory of religion (social, ritual, cognitive).


Ritual Theory and the Efficacy of Curses. National Meeting, Society of Biblical Literature, Denver CO, November 19, 2018.

The Curses of Zinçirli.  EABS/SBL International Meeting. Berlin, Germany.

UM Research View:  http://www.umt.edu/urelations/pubs/Research%20View/Summer%202013/Warring%20With%20Words.php

Gallery talk:  Prinz-Georg // Raum für Kunst