Leonard Rutgers (1964) studied classical archaeology and ancient history at the VU University Amsterdam (M.A. cum laude). He then went on to study early Christian archaeology in Rome, Jewish studies at Vienna University, Jewish archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and religious studies at Duke University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1993 (ΦΒΚ). He participated in various archaeological excavations in the Netherlands, Italy, and in Israel.
In 1994 he spent a year at the Dutch Institute as a postdoctoral fellow, to continue his research on the Jewish community of ancient Rome. In 1995 he joined the Department of Theology at Utrecht University as research fellow sponsored by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences. During this time he was a staff member of the Sepphoris Regional Project.
In 2003, he became a full professor when the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts created a personal chair in the study of “Late Antiquity, with special emphasis on the interaction between Jews, Christians and Pagans” in 2003. This chair, located in the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University, is the only chair of its kind in the Netherlands.
Leonard Rutgers has served for many years as a Unit Chair at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He also serves on various committees including those of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Research Foundation Flanders in Brussels (FWO). Rutgers has won a variety of academic awards and grants, including the Keetje Hodshon Prize (1996) for his book on The Jews of Ancient Rome. In 2007 he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
Over the years, he has directed “The Jewish Catacombs of Rome” project, and the “Rise of Christianity Project.” Currently he is editing the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Late Antique Art and Archaeology (CUP), doing a research project on the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, and planning a new archaeological fieldwork project in Rome.