Faculty Profile

Nathaniel B. Levtow

Nathaniel B. Levtow

Associate Professor of History; Associate Professor of World Languages and Cultures; Director, Global Humanities and Religions

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

Current Position

Associate Professor of History; Associate Professor of World Languages and Cultures; Director, Global Humanities and Religions


Teaching Areas: Ancient History, History of Religion

Selected courses taught: Introduction to the Humanities; History of the Bible and the Ancient Near East; Early Christianity; The First Historians; Beginnings of Western Religion; Theory and Method in the Study of Religion; History of Judaism; God, Gods and Goddesses in the Biblical World; Genesis: History, Literature, Religion; Religion and Violence; Prophecy and History.

Personal Summary

Nathaniel Levtow teaches courses on ancient history and the history of religions in the College of Humanities and Sciences. His courses and publications explore the connections between religion, history, politics and literature from social, anthropological, comparative and cognitive scientific perspectives. He is currently writing a book about the destruction of sacred texts and images.

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 (Eisenbrauns, 2008), examines the political aspects of iconoclasm in the Bible and West Asia. He is a Trustee of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and was a U.S. Department of State Educational and Cultural Affairs Fellow in 2011 and 2001-2002. Before joining the UM faculty in 2006 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a Visting Scholar in the Theology Faculty of Humboldt University in Berlin (2015-16) and received the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin (2015). Dr. Levtow's research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (2013, 2015-16), and he is a recipient of the University of Montana's Cox Educational Excellence Award for Teaching.

Levtow NEH-AAB on the Humanities


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

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

Field of Study

History of Religion; Biblical Studies

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.


Honors at the University of Montana include:

Merit Award for Service, Teaching and Scholarship, College of Humanities and Sciences, 2018.

Cox Educational Excellence Award for Teaching, College of Humanities and Sciences, 2011.

Professional Experience

Service to the University of Montana:

Founding Director, University of Montana Humanities Institute, 2016–2018.

Chair, UM Nominating Committee, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipends, 2016–2019; UM Nominating Committee, NEH Summer Stipends, 2013, 2016

Chair, UM Individual and Cooperative Faculty Research Grants Selection Committee, 2016-2019.

Chair, Baldridge Book Subvention Grant selection committee, 2016-2019.

Chair, Drake Award for Undergraduate and Graduate Student Writing Selection Committee, 2016-2019.

Founding Program Developer, UM Faculty Research Public Lecture Series, 2016-2018.

Ad hoc advisor for Missoula-Berlin UM Journalism student workshop on Syrian refugees, 2016.

(Externally-funded research leave [NEH, AAB], 2015-2016.)

Selection Committee, Cox Award and CHS Excellence for Teaching Across the Curriculum Awards, 2013–2014.

 Academic Standards and Curriculum Review Humanities Subcommittee: 2007–2013. Guided subcommittee review of UM’s new Arabic Studies minor.

Academic Standards and Curriculum Review General Education Subcommittee, Cultural and Historical Studies, 2012–2013.

Humanities Representative, University of Montana Faculty Senate, 2009–2012.

Guest lectures for UM Departments of Anthropology, History, Liberal Studies, Modern and Classical Languages and Literature, Philosophy, Arabic Studies and DHC/GLI (topics: “Anthropology of Religion,” “Religion and Politics,” “Judaism of the Silk Road,” “Creation and the Bible,” “Modern Israel,” “Religion and Violence”): 2007-present.

Advisor on Mansfield Library humanities purchases, 2007-13.

Advised UM faculty research in Humanities and Social Science fields: review of publications, research initiatives, grant applications (ACLS, Mellon Foundation, NEH), 2011-present.

Invited Public Presentations at the University of Montana:

Writing Competitive NEH Proposals: Practice Review Panel. National Endowment for the Humanities and University of Montana Faculty Development Office, 2014.

The Graven Image & The Written Word: Religion, War, and Writing in Ancient Times. Linguistics Club, 2014.

The Beginnings of Book Burning. UM Innovation & Imagination Conference, 2014.

Invited speaker to all UM graduate Teaching Assistants on undergraduate teaching, 2112

Paul Between Judaism and Christianity. Emmaus Campus Ministry, 2012.

“You Have Burned This Scroll.” UM Literature and Research Colloquium, 2010.

Aniconism and Iconoclasm in Ancient Judaism. Philosophy Forum, 2010.

How the Bible Came to Be. Community Lecture Series, 2010.

Guest speakers brought to UM:

-Rebecca Richman Cohen, J.D.: Filmmaker and Lecturer, Harvard Law School

Topic: International Criminal Court, Sierra Leone. Forum: 1) Public film showing with Director Q&A on campus; 2) International Human Rights CLE (UM Law School): 2012.

- Jonathan Spyer, PhD: Journalist and Senior Research Fellow, Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Israel

Topic: 1) Syrian Uprising; 2) Israel, Iran, and the Arab Spring. Forum: 1) Public brownbag lunch; 2) public evening lecture on campus: Nov. 2011

- Seth F. C. Richardson:  Managing Editor, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

              Topic:  Babylonian Wisdom. Forum: Public evening lecture on campus: October 2008.

- Joshua H. Prager, Senior Reporter, Wall Street Journal

Topic: Investigative journalism. Forum: Fireside chat with UM Journalism students, 2008.

Publicity and Promotion for UM, College of Humanities and Sciences:

Press announcements, print and television (KPAX) interviews on UM Humanities Institute and humanities faculty research, 2016-present.

Established UM membership in international Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, 2016.

National Public Radio Berlin, Germany: interview on research, 2015.

UM Public Radio and Kaimin interviews on RLST program and religion topics, 2011-present.

UM Research View: Research feature, Summer 2012.

Service to the Profession

 Peer-reviewer: Oxford University Press; Journal of Near Eastern Studies; Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religion.

Review Panelist, National Committee, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipends, 2016-17.

Fellowships Reviewer, American Academy in Berlin, 2014-present.

Fellowships Committee, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, 2015-present.

Trustee, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, 2015-present.

Nominating Committee, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, 2015-present.

Steering Committee, Society of Biblical Literature Program Unit “Religions of Israel and Judah in their West Asian Environments”, 2014-present.

Executive Board, Society of Biblical Literature International Cooperation Initiative, 2011: founded international network of religion scholars in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

International Experience

Teaching and research: Jerusalem; Berlin; Edinburgh.


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