W. David Nelson earned a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and both a MA in Bible and Cognate Studies and a PhD in Rabbinic Literature and Thought from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to Groton, he served as a member of the faculty in the Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis and as Rosenthal Associate Professor and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at TCU and Brite Divinity School. He has both studied and served as a visiting research professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In addition to numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, David has published five books, most recently From Creation to Redemption: Progressive Approaches to Midrash. He has also published: Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations; Re-Presenting Texts: Jewish and Black Biblical Interpretation; and The Mekhilta d’Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, the first English translation and commentary of this ancient anthology of Jewish interpretation of the biblical book of Exodus.
David currently serves as an officer of the board of directors of the Society of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, as well as on the editorial boards of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Religion and the Judaism in Context Series. He is an active member of the American Academy of Religion and currently serves as chair of the Midrash Section for the Society of Biblical Literature.
David heads Groton’s Religious Studies and Philosophy Department, heads an Upper School boys’ dorm, and coaches JV boys basketball. He teaches a range of courses including Sacred Texts, The Holocaust, Ethics, and Jerusalem: City at the Intersection of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.