Alan F. Segal was a professor of religion and Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College.
Segal was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Amherst College, Brandeis University, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Yale University.
Segal was an expert especially in the history and religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity of the Roman period, and on the Semitic languages in use in Israel in that period. His scholarly reputation commenced with his landmark book, Two Powers in Heaven, in which he explored early references in rabbinic texts that he proposed were directed against beliefs of Jewish Christians and gnostics. His 1986 book, Rebecca's Children, was a sensitive study showing that rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity were sibling developments from the parent biblical tradition. His book, Paul the Convert was Editor's Choice and main selection of the History Book Club's summer 1990 list, and a selection of the Book of the Month Club. His last book, Life After Death was a massive study of beliefs spanning from ancient near-eastern civilizations to the present and across various religious traditions. It was a selection of the History Book Club, the Book of the Month Club, and the Behaviorial Science Book Club. It also featured on the Leonard Lopate Show, Talk of the Nation, and was the cover story of the Globe and Mail Book Review Supplement. In addition, he wrote numbers articles and chapters in scholarly books.