Fred Astren

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Fred Astren
(415) 338-3152
Building: Humanities Building
Room Number: Room 418


  • 1993 Ph.D., Near Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley
  • 1989, M.A., Arabic, UC Berkeley
  • 1979, B.E.S. (Bachelor of Elected Studies), Medieval History, University of Minnesota.

Research Interests

  • Jewish History and the Medieval Mediterranean
  • Jewish History in the Orbit of Medieval Islam
  • Early Medieval History


  • JS 301 Introduction to Judaism
  • JS 501 Judaism, Christianity and Islam J
  • S 632 Jewish History I: Beginnings to 1650
  • HIST 327 The Medieval Mediterranean
  • HIST 720 Seminar in Medieval History: The Medieval Mediterranean
  • HIST 604 Islamic World I: The Near East, 500-1600 C.E.

Selected Publications


  • Karaite Judaism and Historical Understanding, Studies in Comparative Religion, Columbia, South Carolina (2004). Book manuscript award from Koret Jewish Publications Program, 2000.
  • Judaism and Islam: Boundaries, Communication, and Interaction (Editor, with Benjamin H. Hary and John L. Hayes), Festschrift for William M. Brinner, E.J. Brill: Leiden, The Netherlands (2000).

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Non-Rabbinic and non-Karaite Religious Movements in the Medieval Islamic World,” in Robert Chazan and Marina Rustow (eds.), The Cambridge History of Judaism, The Medieval Era, Volume 5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).
  • "The Gibeonite Gambit in the Middle Ages: Harrānians, Karaites, and Khaybarī Jews on the Margins of Islamic Society,” in María Ángeles Gallego (ed.), Reason and Faith in Medieval Judaism and Islam, Leiden: E.J. Brill (forthcoming in the Commentaria Series).
  • "Jews,” in A Companion to Mediterranean History, edited by Peregrine Horden and Sharon Kinoshita, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell (2014), pp. 392–408.
  • "Goitein, Medieval Jews and the ‘New Mediterranean Studies’,” Jewish Quarterly Review 102:4 (2012), 513-531; in a forum of review essays on the Mediterranean.
  • "Re-reading the Muslim Sources: Jewish History in the Early Islamic Period,” invited for publication in Yohanan Friedmann (ed.), Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 35 (2009), 83-130; a volume in memory of Moshe Pearlmann.
  • "De-Paganizing Death: Aspects of Mourning in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Islam,” in Bible and Qur’an: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality, edited by John C. Reeves, Atlanta: American Academy of Religion (2003), pp. 183-199.
  • "Islamic Contexts: The Karaites and Religious Movements in Islam,” in Karaite Judaism: A Guide to its History and Literary Sources, edited by Meira Polliack, Leiden: E.J. Brill (2003), pp.145-177.
  • "Karaite Historiography and Historical Consciousness,” in Karaite Judaism: A Guide to its History and Literary Sources, edited by Meira Polliack, Leiden: E.J. Brill (2003), pp. 25-69.
  • "The Dead Sea Scrolls and Medieval Jewish Studies: Methods and Problems,” Dead Sea Discoveries,  8:2 (2001), 105-123.
  • "Karaite Approaches to History in Medieval Islam” in Judaism and Islam: Boundaries, Interaction, and Communication, edited by Benjamin Hary, John L. Hayes, and Fred Astren, Leiden:  E.J. Brill (2000), 321–334.
  • “History or Philosophy? The Construction of the Past in Medieval Karaite Judaism,” Medieval Encounters, 1:1 (1995), 114–143.

Encyclopedia entries and contributions to other reference works

  • "Conversion to Islam by Jews,” “Damascus Document,” “Dhimmah,” “Historiography and Historical Writing,” “Mālik al-Ramlī” “Muslim Conquests and the Jews,” and “Jacob al-Qirqisānī,” entries in the   Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, edited by Norman A. Stillman, Leiden: Brill (2010).
  • "History of the Karaite Diaspora” and “Islamization and Medieval Jews,” entries in Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora, edited by M. Avrum Ehrlich, Oxford: ABC-CLIO (2008).
  • "Karaites,” article in the Reader’s Guide to Judaism, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers (2000).

Museum publications and other writing

  • “Jewish Perceptions of Time: Linear, Layered, Cyclical, and Circular,” scholarly essay in exhibition catalog, Telling Time, Berkeley, California: The Judah L. Magnes Museum (2000).
  • “A Tribute to Professor William M. Brinner,” in Judaism and Islam: Boundaries, Interaction, and Communication, edited by Benjamin Hary, John L. Hayes, and Fred Astren, E.J. Leiden: E.J. Brill (2000), xix–xxvii
  • The Jewish Printed Book in India: Imprints of the Blumenthal Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California (1992).
  • Judaica, an Annotated Catalog from the Judah L. Magnes Museum and Library, The Image Bank for Teaching World Religions, Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and The Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California (1991).

Academic Associations

  • American Historical Association
  • Association for Jewish Studies
  • The Mediterranean Seminar
  • Middle East Medievalists
  • Middle East Studies Association