Professor Timothy Lim (DPhil, Oxon)

Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Bible & Second Temple Judaism


Educated in Vancouver, Jerusalem and Oxford, I came to Edinburgh in 1994 as Lecturer in Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins, becoming  Reader in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies in 1998, and Professor of Hebrew Bible & Second Temple Judaism in 2005.

I have wide ranging interests in the history, literature and religious thought of the Hebrew Bible, ancient Judaism and the origins of Christianity.  The two foci of my research are canon research and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I welcome inquiries from postgraduate students who would like to pursue master and doctoral studies in any of these areas.


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DPhil (Oxon), MPhil (Oxon), MCS (Regent), BA (UBC)

Responsibilities & affiliations

General Editor, the Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Oxford: OUP).

Undergraduate teaching

Teaching Responsibilities: 

  • Moses & the Torah (Pentateuch)
  • Leviticus
  • Habakkuk
  • The Song of Songs
  • Bible & Archaeology
  • Judaism in the Graeco-Roman Period
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Early Jewish Texts
  • Intermediate Hebrew
  • Advanced Hebrew
  • Aramaic

Postgraduate teaching

Teaching Responsibilities:

  • Bible & Archaeology
  • Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls 
  • Selected Topics
  • Advanced Hebrew
  • Aramaic 

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I have now retired and will no longer be taking on supervisions.  

Past PhD students supervised

Some published dissertations of former students:

Phil Foster (PhD 2020): The Semantics of רַע (bad) in Ancient and Mishnaic Hebrew.  BET.  Leuven: Peeters, 2022.

Chris Lee (PhD 2019): For in the Day that You Eat of It, You Shall Surely Die.  The Early Reception History of the Death Warning in Genesis 2:17.  FAT 2.115.  Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2020.

Kengo Akiyama (PhD 2015): The Love of Neighbour in Ancient Judaism.  Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity Series.  AJEC.  Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Michael Glasby (PhD 2014): Wholeness & Holiness.  Medicine, Disease, Purity and the Levitical Priesthood.  London: Apollos, 2017.

John Starr (PhD 2013): Classifying the Aramaic Texts from Qumran: A Statistical Analysis of Linguistic Features.  London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Caroline Blyth (PhD 2008): The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34: Interpreting Dinah's Silence.  Oxford: OUP, 2010.

David M. Allen (PhD 2007): Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews.  WUNT.  Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008. 

Robert Rezetko (PhD 2005): Source and Revision in the Narratives of David's Transfer of the Ark.  Text, Language and Story in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13, 15-16.  LHBOT.  London: T&T Clark, 2007.

Research summary

I have wide ranging interests that span across traditional scholarly boundaries of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Samaritan Pentateuch, New Testament, Qumran, Septuagint, Josephus, Philo, and Rabbinics.  A historical approach cannot be confined by fields constructed primarily for scholarly convenience.  The two foci of my publications are canon research and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I am interested in the development and emergence of collections of authoritative scriptures in ancient Israel and early Judaism.  What led to the valorization of certain writings, and not others, as "holy scriptures"?  What influence did the cultural and political milieux have on various Jewish communities and their construction of “the bible"?  The Dead Sea Scrolls constitute particularly important evidence for these canonical processes.  See a 'Retrospective' of my work (


Current research interests

My current project is the editing of the Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls, for which I serve as General Editor. I have also embarked on a new project on the canonisation and reception history of the Song of Songs.

Past research interests

Several of my previous publications focused on the use of the Old Testament in the New, especially on Paul the Pharisees' citation of the uniform text, the Septuagint, Hebrew texts (MT and others), and his own translation. A retrospective of my career is published at Ancient Jew Review (

Knowledge exchange

My popular book, The Dead Sea Scrolls.  A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP), first (2005) and second (2017) editions, has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, Korean and Portuguese.  Audio Book of the first edition was published by (Amazon).  Second edition (2017) has just appeared in Italian (2019).

"The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy", Ancient Near East Today (

"Understanding the Emergence of the Jewish Canon" Ancient Jew Review (

"Canonical Process Reconsidered", Ancient Near East Today (

"Contemporary Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls" OUP Blog (

"Essenes in Judaean Society: The Sectarians of the Dead Sea Scrolls" OUP Blog (

"Recent Scrolls Discovery from the Judaean Desert" Logos Blog (

Project activity

I am the General Editor of a new series entitled The Oxford Commentary on the Dead Scrolls (OUP).  

My new project is on the canonization and reception history of the Song of Songs.

View all 80 publications on Research Explorer