Fishbane (Ph.D., Brandeis University) has spent the bulk of his career first at Brandeis and presently at the University of Chicago. He is probably best known for his seminal work on inner-biblical exegesis, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel.
To quote the introduction of his festschrift entitled Scripture Exegesis: The Shapes of Culture and Religious Imagination (Oxford 2009), "More than a generation of scholars have engaged, adopted, and further developed Professor Fishbane's unique outlook and understanding of the history of interpretation, particularly as it elucidates evolving tropes of thought and religion. Many of his contemporaries have also been influenced by his nuanced and extraordinary methods of uncovering continuity of traditions—overt and sub-surface—implicit in exegesis."
Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel was "the first comprehensive study of 'inner-biblical' exegesis, articulating and analyzing almost every instance in which the various streams of tradition comment, reformulate, and reinterpret or transform earlier biblical material." One of his main contributions to the field thus was the systematization and classification of inner-biblical exegesis, a close, exegetical reading of how the traditum—the main stuff of the tradition—was transmuted by traditio—the process of transmission. In doing so, he attempted to show that later Rabbinic exegesis did not arise spontaneously en toto but rather had ancient roots, particularly in inner-biblical exegesis.
Fishbane has also had an impact on biblical and Jewish mythology and mythmaking, rabbinics and the history of Jewish interpretation, Jewish mysticism, and modern Jewish thought.
A sample of his more well-known works:
- Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel, (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1985.)
- Garments of Torah: Essays in Biblical Hermeneutics, (Indiana University Press, 1989.)
- The Kiss of God: Spiritual and Mystical Death in Judaism, (University of Washington Press, 1994.)
- The Exegetical Imagination: On Jewish Thought and Theology, (Harvard University Press, 1998.)
- Biblical Text and Texture: A Literary Reading of Selected Texts, (Oneworld Publications, 1998.)
- The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot, (Jewish Publication Society, 2002.)
- Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking, (Oxford University Press, 2003.)
- Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology (University of Chicago Press, 2007.)