Jay A. Holstein (he, him, his)

Professor Jay A. Holstein
Emeritus Professor
Ordained as Rabbi, Hebrew Union College (New York), 1966; PhD, Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati), 1970
Curriculum Vitae: 

Dr. Holstein came to The University of Iowa in 1970 and in 1982 he became the first J.J. Mallon Teaching Chair in Judaic Studies.  In October 2020, Dr. Holstein was honored for his 50 years of teaching at the University of Iowa.  Click here for a host of videos featuring Dr. Holstein, including "Jay Holstein: A Golden Legacy of Learning".

Dr. Holstein's large courses are among the most popular in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, closing quickly in early registration; he typically teaches 1200-1500 students per year. Describing his course content in a recent interview with FYI he commented, "a liberal arts education is our best weapon against ignorance … students are going to go out and make decisions about life and love. Everything in the human situation is rooted in variations on three themes: food, sex, and death. Whether it’s a decision to slaughter animals, to drink alcohol, what we do in the bedroom, to what we are willing to die for—from the table to the bedroom to the grave, nothing in our modern, technological world has changed this. That’s why ancient texts like the Hebrew Bible are still relevant."

Professor, a documentary film based on Dr. Holstein, was released in Spring 2010 with a premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in early March, followed by a screening at the University of Iowa's Bijou Theater in late March. 

Research Interests: 
Hebrew Bible
Selected Publications: 

(For complete list, please see Dr. Holstein's CV):

  • “Max Weber and Biblical Scholarship,” Hebrew Union College Annual XLVI (1975)
  • “The Case of 'is ha'elohim' Reconsidered: Philosophical Analysis versus Historical Reconstruction,” Hebrew Union College Annual XLVIII (1977)
  • “Melville’s Inversion of Job in Moby-Dick,” The Iliff Review (Winter, 1980)
  • “The ‘Inside’ Role of Biblical Allusions in Melville’s Billy Budd (An Inside Narrative),” Rendezvous 15 (Fall, 1980)
  • “Melville's Stereotypical Treatment of Jews,” The Journal of Reform Judaism (1981)
  • “The Role of the Bible in Public Education,” in Multicultural Non-Sexist Education: A Human Relations Approach (1985)
  • “Melville’s Inversion of Jonah in Moby-Dick,” The Iliff Review (Fall, 1985)
  • The Jewish Experience, third edition. Burgess Press (1990)
  • “How Not to Read the Bible: Bloom’s The Book of J,” The Iowa Review Vol. 21, Number 3 (1991)
  • “Making the Written Word ‘Speak’: Reflections on the Teaching of Correspondence Courses,” The Journal of Long Distance Education (Fall/Winter 1992–93)
Courses Taught: 

Dr. Holstein offers courses in all of the academic sessions, in both on-campus and distance education venues. Typical course offerings include the following:

  • 032:001 Judeo-Christian Tradition
  • 032:003 Quest for Human Destiny: From Eden to 2001
  • RELS:2946 fka 032:147 Quest II: Sex, Love, and Death
  • 032:169 Quest III: Heroes, Lovers, and Knaves
  • RELS:2912 fka 032:112 The Bible in Film: Hollywood and Moses
  • RELS:2775 fka 032:150 The Bible and the Holocaust
  • 032:121 The Bible and the Sacrifice of Animals
  • RELS:4001 Biblical Hebrew I
  • RELS:4002  Biblical Hebrew II
  • RELS:1021  Judaism: The Sacred and the Secular
Awards, Honors and Grants: 
  • Jay Holstein: A Golden Legacy of Learning (honor for 50 years of teaching) 2020
  • President and Provost's Award for Teaching Excellence, 2014
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Chapter of Iowa Visiting Professor, 2014
  • Awarded University Medallion at 2009 CLAS Faculty Honors Celebration, 2009
  • Named The University of Iowa first Teaching Chair, 2007
  • Teacher of the Year, The University of Iowa Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils, 2007
  • The University of Iowa Honors Program Teaching Award, 1996
  • The University of Iowa Collegiate Teaching Award, 1989
  • Who’s Who in America
  • Who’s Who in Religion in America