- AB, Harvard University
- MPhil, PhD, Yale University
Peter Machinist came to Harvard in 1991. In addition to being on the Faculty of Divinity, he is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, serving in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Committee on the Study of Religion. Earlier, he taught in departments of religion or Near Eastern studies at Case Western Reserve University (1971–77), the University of Arizona (1977–86), and the University of Michigan (1986–90). He also served as visiting lecturer (1981) and Lady Davis Visiting Professor in Jewish History (2003) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and he was Visiting Professor at the Munich Center for Ancient Worlds of the University of Munich, Germany in 2013–14. The University of Zurich, Switzerland, awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2009.
His primary interest is in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of the ancient Near East, focusing particularly on ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible, and ancient Mesopotamia. Within this framework, his research and teaching topics include the ideology of imperialism and other forms of group identification; ancient historiography; mythology; prophecy; Assyrian history; and the history of modern biblical and other Near Eastern scholarship.
Among his publications are Provincial Governance in Middle Assyria, "Assyria and Its Image in the First Isaiah," "Outsiders and Insiders: The Biblical View of Emergent Israel and Its Contexts," "Fate, Miqreh, and Reason: Reflections on Qohelet and Biblical Thought," "The Fall of Assyria in Comparative Ancient Perspective," "Biblical Traditions: The Philistines and Israelite History," "The Voice of the Historian in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean World," "How Gods Die, Biblically and Otherwise," and "The Road Not Taken: Wellhausen and Assyriology." Among his current projects is a volume of commentary on the prophetic book of Nahum.