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Center for Judaic Studies

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Prof. Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin
Director of the Center for Judaic Studies
Emil and Eva Hecht Chair in Judaic Studies
Professor of Philosophy
University of Denver

Sturm Hall

Recent Updates

In Fall 2015, Sarah was promoted to full professor. She also recently accepted the 2016 Everding Distinguished Lecturership appointment from the Iliff School of Theology and Saint John's Cathedral; the Lectureship aims at enhancing interfaith dialogue and inter-religious learning throughout the community. As part of her Lectureship, Sarah will be delivering 6 public lectures this Winter: 

  • “Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Forgiveness,” a 4-part lecture series, co-sponsored by Iliff School of Theology and St. John's Cathedral, (Denver, St. John's Cathedral), February 17, 24, March 2, 9, 2016
  • “Levinas and Responsibility: A Jewish Theology of the Human Other,” co-sponsored by Iliff School of Theology and St. John's Cathedral, Denver, January 31, 2016
  • “Towards Uncomfortable Interfaith Work,” co-sponsored by Iliff School of Theology, St. John's Cathedral, and The Abrahamic Initiative, Denver, January 31, 2016

This summer, Sarah was sponsored by AHSS to participate in Cornell University's School of Criticism and Theory, and her new article “Forms of Hylomorphism in Islamic Philosophy” was published in the Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy, eds. Richard Taylor and Luis X. López-Farjeat (New York: Routledge, 2015). She also completed and submitted her new essay “Soul and Will: Jewish and Islamic Tradition” for a forthcoming philosophy volume in a series called The History of the Philosophy of Mind. She is currently editing the Jewish philosophy section for a new intercultural reader in medieval philosophy, and is working on an essay on Neoplatonic Love, two essays on postmodern Jewish theology, and a new project on the philosophical and theological limits of forgiveness (and non-forgiveness).

This year, Sarah is teaching a number of new classes, including Religious Existentialism: Christian and Jewish (Fall 2015), Great Thinkers: Levinas (Winter 2016), Forgiveness (team-taught with Edward Antonio; Winter 2016), and Cosmopolitics (an intensive study of Plato's Timaeus, with Thomas Nail; Spring 2016). Sarah will also organize the new Joint Doctoral Program graduate colloquium seminar (Spring 2016).

In addition to her Winter 2016 Everding Distinguished Lectureship lecture series, Sarah will be delivering a paper on  “Divine Will in Maimonides: Rethinking Free Choice, Pre-Destination, and Natural Law” for the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy at the American Philosophical Association meeting (San Francisco, Spring 2016). She recently delivered the paper “Levinas: Agonism and the Other/s" as part of the Philosopher’s Stone Lecture Series at Regis College (October 2015).

Sarah also continues to work on projects that build upon her recently published book,  Ibn Gabirol's Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 

Sarah annually co-organizes the Week of Jewish Philosophy with colleague Elias Sacks (CU Boulder), offering scholars, students, and community members opportunities to work through challenging texts and questions in Jewish Philosophy. She also annually co-organizes the  Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions conference with Richard Taylor (Marquette University), offering scholars and students working in medieval philosophy an opportunity to share research on the intersection of ideas across Jewish, Islamic, and Christian medieval texts and traditions. 

Sarah continues to lead conversations about Levinasian ethics in connection with the  Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site , as she continues to be active in campus inclusivisy and diversity efforts, including co-chairing (with colleague Tom Romero) a new working group on Race, Inequality, and Social Change (RISC), serving on the board of IRISE, and serving on the new Chancellor’s Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee.


MA, Columbia University, New York

PhD, The Ohio State University, Columbus