Department of Religious Studies

Jo Ann Hackett

Ph.D., Harvard University

Jo Ann Hackett


  • Phone: 512-471-6951
  • Office: CAL 501B
  • Office Hours: M 1:30-3:30; F 2-3
  • Campus Mail Code: F9400


Old Testament & Hebrew studies | Semitic languages & epigraphy | women in the ancient Near East | mythology


Jo Ann Hackett is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies.  Prior to joining the University of Texas at Austin in fall 2009, Prof. Hackett taught Biblical Hebrew and Northwest Semitic epigraphy and directed the Biblical Hebrew program in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.  While at Harvard, she also served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the NELC Department and Director of Ph.D. Studies for the Committee on the Study of Religion.  In 2006, Hackett was awarded the Everett S. Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Harvard University Graduate Student Council.  She has taught in the Religious Studies Departments at Indiana University and Occidental College.

Besides general Old Testament and epigraphy, Prof. Hackett's research interests have embraced Phoenician language and religion; the period of Judges; women's lives in the ancient Near East; "fertility" religion; sacrifice, including child sacrifice; the study of myths and mythology; polemic against foreigners in the ancient Near East; and computer imaging of Ugaritic tablets.  She is the author of numerous monographs, including The Balaam Text from Tell Deir Alla, and has contributed to The HarperCollins Study Bible and The Oxford History of the Biblical World.  Her recently-completed textbook, A Basic Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, is set for publication in May 2010.


R S 386H • Bible In Hebrew II

42900 • Fall 2015
Meets M 300pm-600pm CAL 422
(also listed as HEB 380C)

Bible in Hebrew II

In a series of four courses, all Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near East graduate students will read the Hebrew Bible in its entirety, in Hebrew (and the small amount of Aramaic that also appears).  This schedule amounts to approximately 30 pages of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia each week.  In addition, each professor will stress some element of Biblical Hebrew or the Hebrew Bible, e.g.,  historical grammar or syntax.


Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia

Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar

Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon

Joüon-Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew

Bauer-Leander, Historische Grammatik der Hebräischen Sprache des Alten Testaments

Waltke-O'Connor, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax


Class participation:  50%

Research paper:  50%

R S 353 • Gendering The Old Testament

43195 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BEN 1.106
(also listed as J S 363, MEL 321, MES 342, WGS 340)

What happens if you jettison the sweetly smiling, long-suffering, or dastardly evil biblical women we know from our youth and instead look at their stories through the modern lenses of feminism, sociology, anthropology, and women’s history? You will get a 21st-century picture of women’s motivations, women’s sources of power, women’s relationships with their men and their societies. Rather than exploring conventional religious/spiritual interpretations, we will nurture instead critical thinking and close readings of the stories of Ruth, Jezebel, Deborah, and many more.


To be determined.


Attendance 10%, Quizzes 50%, Oral report 10%, Final project 30%

R S 365 • In Search Of King David

44307 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BEN 1.126
(also listed as J S 363, MEL 321, MES 342)

The first use of the term "Israel" occurs on an Egyptian stela from around 1200 BCE. It simply describes a group of people rather than a town or city or any other geographical entity, although they are situated in what will later be the borders of ancient Israel. Between that time and the later rule of Kings Saul, David, Solomon, and others is a 200-year period when ancient Israel emerges, first from the rugged highlands and later over a much larger territory. From this premonarchic era we have a series of narratives of men and women called, variously, saviors or deliverers or "judges."  This class will cover the book of Judges in its entirety, from the earliest poetry through the narratives of the deliverers, including the book's editing and placement within the Bible, ending with the disturbing final chapters of the book that speak of deceit, rape, and war.


  • Common English Bible
  • Judges (Old Testament Library), by Susan Niditch
  • various readings to be provided


  • Attendance in class, 10%
  • Quizzes over the reading, 20%
  • Oral reports, 20%
  • Report on a scholarly article 20%
  • Research paper, 30%

R S 365 • In Search Of King David

43788 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 308
(also listed as J S 363, MEL 321, MES 342)

Israel’s second king, David son of Jesse, is remembered in later literature as the ideal king—he overcame obstacles to rule a large kingdom; he was loyal to and beloved of Yahweh, Israel’s god; he played the lyre and wrote psalms; he was even the type of the Messiah, an idea taken over by the early Christians. But is that really the way the Hebrew Bible paints him? Was he a king by Yahweh’s design or a usurper? Was he moved to compose a lovely poem to King Saul and his son Jonathan or responsible for their deaths? What kind of loyal Yahwist would send his pregnant mistress’s husband to die in battle?

David is an enigma, no less to modern scholars than to ancient narrators. We will examine his story in the context of the Hebrew Bible, of archaeology, of other kings in the ancient Near East, and of his relationships—with his family, with Saul, and with Yahweh.


Common English Bible

Life in Biblical Israel, by Philip King and Lawrence Stager.

Articles posted on Blackboard


40%  6- to 8-page project describing art devoted to King David 15%   Oral Report on the art project 10%   Peer Review of the Oral Report 10%   Attendance in class 25%   Participation in class

R S 375S • Gods Of Old: Ancient Near East

43780 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CAL 221
(also listed as MES 320)

The earliest written records we possess come from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.  Among those documents, the ancients not only recorded economic transactions and royal inscriptions, but they also took the time to write down stories—stories of creation, of heroes, of gods.  Likewise, other cultures between Egypt and Mesopotamia wrote down their myths, and we have their records from a later time. In this course, we will review a number of ways of dealing with mythology, such as functionalism; structuralism; phenomenology; poststructuralism.  We will spend the majority of our time, however, reading and interpreting myths from Mesopotamia, from the Hittites, from Ugarit, from Canaan, and from Egypt.  We will find a number of similarities, but also significant differences; whichever it may be, we will read and interpret fascinating ancient literature.This course will have a writing flag, and thus students are expected to write frequently, substantially, and with peer input.  Students will write 5 response papers to the weekly readings, and will work through the stages of writing a research paper.   The course will also have an independent inquiry flag, and while the course readings will focus on ancient Near Eastern mythology and its interpretation, students are welcome to write research papers on myths from other traditions, for example, or to examine the lives of those who theorize about mythology.  Some of the ideas we encounter have even made their way into the modern world, and students may be interested in investigating those phenomena.  Deciding on a topic for the final paper will be one of the challenges of the course.



Dundes, Alan, ed.  Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of MythLincoln, Bruce.  Theorizing MythFoster, Benjamin.  Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian LiteratureHoffner, Harry.  Hittite MythsParker, Simon, ed.  Ugaritic Narrative PoetryPinch, Geraldine.  Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introductiona Bible:  either the HarperCollins Study Bible or the Jewish Publication Society TanakhIn addition, a set of articles and primary source readings will be placed on Blackboard.


class participation (= attendance & engagement): 25%final paper (10-12 pages):  25%prospectus of final paper: 5%1st draft of final paper:  10%2nd draft of final paper: 10%5 1-2 page responses:  15%  (3% each)peer responses:  10%

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