Michael Coogan

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Michael D. Coogan is Lecturer on Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School, Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum, Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Biblical Studies Online,[1] and Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Stonehill College. He has also taught at Fordham University, Boston College, Wellesley College, and the University of Waterloo (Ontario). Coogan has also participated in and directed archaeological excavations in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Egypt, and has lectured widely. In the "I Wanna Know" interview he does not affirm his personal faith, but speaks of Christians using the third person and maintains an academic posture. Coogan doubts that Jesus thought of himself as divine.[2]

Education and honors

Coogan was raised as Roman Catholic and for 10 years was Jesuit. Coogan holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, 1971.[3] In 2000, he received Stonehill's Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his scholarship and teaching.


One of the leading biblical scholars in the United States,[4] he is the author of The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible, and Oxford Biblical Studies Online, and a contributor to such standard reference works as The Encyclopedia of Religion, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Other projects that he conceived, edited and collaborated on include The Oxford Companion to the Bible, The Illustrated Guide to World Religions, and The Oxford History of the Biblical World. His most recent work is published by Twelve Books and titled God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says, published in 2010.[5] In the later, Coogan aims to expand human freedom and justice while giving secondary instruction to the faithful on the proper use of the Bible. He quotes St. Paul in regard to the failure to mention the female disciples in the list of faithful who saw the Risen Christ by noting that the empty tomb story in the Gospels might be a myth and inserted later.[6] As to the authority of the Bible he states "The text is not, except perhaps in the abstract, intrinsically authoritative: it derives its authority from the community." He favors "thinking of the Bible in a more nuanced way than simply as the literal word of God" and identifies the Bible as "one foundational text in American society" which along with our Constitution must be interpreted critically. The purpose of "God and Sex" is weaved jointly with the faithful and the secular in mind.[7]


  • Coogan was featured in The Bible's Buried Secrets from PBS's NOVA series. The documentary investigated the origins of the ancient Israelites, the evolution of their belief in one God, and the creation of the Bible.
  • Coogan appeared in the History Channel documentary Secrets of Noah's Ark.


  1. Oxford University Press. Oxford Biblical Studies Online. Retrieved 16 May 2014. http://global.oup.com/obso/editor_letter/
  2. http://www.whatiwannaknow.com/2011/08/michael-coogan/
  3. Editorial and Advisory Boards. Oxford Biblical Studies Online.
  4. Rachael Kohn The World's Sexiest Book. The Spirit of Things. ABC Radio National.
  5. God and Sex: What the Bible really says. Twelve 2010
  6. Ibid, p 58.
  7. Coogan, Michael (2010) God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says. New York: Twelve. Hachette Book Group. pp. 190-195. ISBN 978-0-446-54525-9.

External links