College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Catholic Studies > Faculty > Jaime Waters

Jaime Waters

  • Associate Professor
  • ​​​​P​​hD, Johns Hopkins University
  • Catholic Studies
  • Faculty
  • Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Biblical Studies, Catholic Biblical Exegesis
  • 773-325-8553
  • ​​​SAC ​​584

I never considered becoming a Biblical Studies professor. Up until my undergraduate years at Boston College (BC), I thought of the Bible as that very important book collecting dust on my bookshelf. Fortunately, my professors opened my eyes to the wonder and complexity of the biblical world, and I knew I wanted to do the same. After completing a BA in theology and philosophy at BC, I went on to complete an MA in religion at Yale University and a PhD in Near Eastern studies at The Johns Hopkins University. My expertise is in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and ancient Semitic languages (e.g., Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, Ugaritic). In 2013, I joined the Catholic Studies Department, a home that allows me the opportunity to merge my interest in ancient and modern perspectives on the Bible.

My research interests include sacred and liminal space, ancient Israelite religion, biblical law, and figurative language in the Hebrew Bible. I have published on the topics of sacred and liminal space in my book Threshing Floors in Ancient Israel: Their Ritual and Symbolic Significance (Fortress Press, 2015). This work explores ancient conceptions of agrarian space. When examining biblical passages about threshing floors, I found a noteworthy phenomenon. Although threshing floors are agricultural spaces, they rarely function in this capacity in the Hebrew Bible. Instead, various ritual activities occur on them including mourning rites, divination, sacrifice, and even the temple is built on a threshing floor. They are depicted as areas where people could access and commune with the divine. My current projects elaborate on this phenomenon by researching the ways in which agriculture and the natural environment facilitate human-divine interaction.

My teaching emphasizes ancient and modern perspectives on the Bible. As when I was an undergrad, many students enter my courses with uncertainty. They are curious about the Bible but also unsure and cautious about interpreting a sacred text. I provide them with the tools needed to understand the historical, social, and cultural context of the Bible while also giving them a variety of modern-day perspectives and interpretive methods. Once equipped with this information, their confidence increases greatly, and they analyze the Bible in an informed manner. I am fortunate to witness and aid in their growth as biblical exegetes. The topics of my courses include a survey of biblical literature as well as more focused courses such as the environment and Bible, the Ten Commandments, Psalms, and prophecy.