Michael Langlois
Associate Professor at the University of Strasbourg

What will you be researching while a fellow at the Frankel Institute and how does it relate to your
work overall?

I will investigate the use and reception of pseudepigraphy within ancient Judaism. This topic relates to my larger research on literary forgery, which encompasses both ancient and modern Jewish “fake” texts. It fits the Frankel Center’s fellowship theme for this year, as ancient Judaism is characterized by a diversity of authoritative Scriptures: some Jewish groups only recognized the Torah of Moses, while
others ascribed authority to other books, some of which were later rejected as false writings. This is
notably the case of the Book of Enoch.

What is the most common misconception about this area of research?

It is often assumed that pseudepigraphy (that is, writing using someone else’s name) was a perfectly
normal and acceptable practice within ancient Judaism. The evidence I have gathered so far seems to
indicate the contrary: ancient Jewish writers insist, for instance, that the five Books of Moses were
indeed written by Moses himself. My research thus shows the diversity within ancient Judaism in the
way that pseudepigraphy was viewed and used.

What has been your greatest success in academic/teaching, research, etc.?

Having been trained in both formal sciences (Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics and Chemistry)
and humanities (Theology, History, Philology, and Epigraphy), I developed an original approach to the
study of ancient texts that takes advantage of all these fields. My colleagues were somewhat skeptics at first, but now, after more than a decade, more and more recognize the value of this approach. I dream of a day when it will be normal for a student to learn Mathematics when they want to become a philologist!

What do you hope to gain from this experience? How has your time at the University of Michigan
impacted your research so far?

Contrary to many universities, where boundaries between disciplines are hard to cross, the University of Michigan welcomes—and even encourages—original approaches such as mine. Being here is a
wonderful opportunity for me to observe how multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs can be
developed “in real life.” I learn a lot from this tremendous experience!