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Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Rochester

Aaron W. Hughes holds the Philip S. Bernstein Chair of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester. Previously, he was the Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor in the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York from 2009-2012, and, from 2001-2009, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Hughes is a scholar of three distinct fields of research: Jewish philosophy, Islamic Studies and Theory and Method in the Academic Study of Religion. In terms of Jewish philosophy, Hughes has traditionally worked on medieval Jewish and Islamic Neo-Platonists, Avicenna, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and Ibn Tufayl. His work is particularly noted for its ability to discuss both the Hebrew and Islamic philosophers of the Jewish-Islamic symbiosis of medieval al-Andalus. His work on Abraham Ibn Ezra is especially noted. More recently Hughes has turned his attention away from a strict historicism to a hermeneutic that attempts to read premodern Jewish Philosophers in the light of modern ones (as can be seen, for example in his The Invention of Jewish Identity).

In terms of Islamic Studies, Hughes has primarily been interested in critiquing what he regards as the overly apologetical and ecumenical approach to the field. This can be witnessed, for example in his two books that take aim at the field (Situating Islam and Theorizing Islam). However rather than just critique, Hughes has also attempted a corrective with his Muslim Identities, which is meant to be an attempt to provide an introduction to Islam in ways that eschews irenic. Writing in the Journal of Islamic Studies, Murad Wilfried Hofmann describes Hughes' Muslim Identities as "the very best introduction currently available in English for non-Muslims seeking a sound approach to Islam."

Hughes is also the editor-in-chief of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (MTSR), the leading journal devoted to the subject. In addition, he is the Editor of the Academy Series, published by Oxford University Press for the American Academy of Religion, and co-editor for the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers.


  • –present
    Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Rochester