Laura Suzanne Lieber

Laura Suzanne Lieber

Professor of Religious Studies

External address: 
118B Gray Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90964, Durham, NC 27708-0964
(919) 660-3504

My primary area of research is in the area of synagogue poetry ("piyyut") from Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period. I examine these works from a variety of perspectives, including literary, performative, and comparative (particularly with early Christian hymnography in Syriac and Greek), and also as a genre of early Jewish biblical interpretation. In recent years, I have begun to integrate the study of material culture into my analysis of these literary works, as part of taking a more fully "contextual" approach to literary analysis. My most recent work approaches late ancient hymnography through the lens of theater studies and performance.


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 2003
  • M.A., Hebrew Union College 1998
  • B.A., University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 1994

Lieber, L. S. ““Dew of Rest: The World of Nature in Qallir’s Gevurot shel Tal".” In Menachem Schmelzer Festschrift, edited by Debra Blank, 167–83. Brill, 2011.

Lieber, L. S. “Jewish Women.” In The Blackwell Companion to Women in the Ancient World, edited by Sheila Dillon and Sharon James, 329–42. Blackwell / Oxford UP, 2011.

Lieber, L. S. “Piyyut.” In Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish Religion, History, and Culture, edited by Judith Baskin, 479–80. Cambridge UP, 2011.

Lieber, L. S. “Post-Biblical Exegesis: Parashat Tetzaveh.” In The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea Weiss, 490–91. URJ Press / Women of Reform Judaism, 2008.

Lieber, L. S. “Penitential Themes in Early Synagogue Poetry.” In Penitential Prayer: Origins, Development, and Impact, edited by Mark J. Boda, Daniel K. Falk, and Rodney Werline, 3:99–125. SBL / Brill, 2008.

Lieber, L. S. “Confessions from A-Z: Penitential Forms in Early Synagogue Poetry.” In Penitential Prayer: Origins, Development, and Impact, edited by M. Boda, D. Falk, and R. Werline, 99–125. Atlanta: Society of Bibilical Literature, 2008.

Lieber, L. S. “Piyyut.” In The Encyclopedia of Judaism, 3:2000–2019. Leidden: Brill, 2005.

Lieber, L. S. “‘O, my dove in the cranny of the rocks, let me see your face!’ Targum, piyyut, and the literary life of the ancient synagogue.” In Paratext and Megatext As Channels of Jewish and Christian Traditions, edited by August A den Hollander, Ulrich B. Schmid, and Willem Frederik Smelik. BRILL, 2003.

Lieber, L. S. “Jewish Worship.” In The Dictionary of the Bible in Ancient Media, edited by E. Stern, R. Person, C. Keith, and T. Thatcher. London: T&T Clark, n.d.

Lieber, L. S. “Stage Mothers: Performing the Matriarchs in Genesis Rabbah and Yannai.” In Genesis Rabbah Conference Volume, edited by P. Schaefer, M. Himmelfarb, and S. Kattan. Berlin & New York: de Gruyter, n.d.


Lieber, L. S. “The Plot within the Piyyut: Retelling the Story of Balak on the Liturgical Stage.” The Journal for Textual Reasoning 8 (2014).

Lieber, Laura S. “The Aroma of Righteousness: Scent and Seduction in Rabbinic Life and Literature.” Interpretation a Journal of Bible and Theology 66, no. 3 (July 2012): 334–35.

Lieber, L. S. “Review of Geza Vermes, Jesus in the Jewish World.” Theology 115 (2012): 53–54.

Lieber, L. S. “Themes and Variations: Yannai on Exod. 3:1 and Deut. 6:4.” Prooftexts 30 (2011): 180–213.

Lieber, L. S. “Essays on Michael Fishbane, Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology.” Edited by L. Edwards. The Ccar Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, 2011.

Lieber, L. “Themes and variations: Yannai on exodus 3:1 and Deuteronomy 6:4.” Prooftexts  Journal of Jewish Literature History 30, no. 2 (December 1, 2010): 180–216. Full Text