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Old Testament

About the research unit

The texts and traditions of the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament or Tanakh) play a vital role in the world religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The Hebrew Bible is a dynamic collection of writings with origins in ancient Near Eastern and eastern Mediterranean cultures, shaped over centuries, and inspiring an ever-growing body of translations and interpretations.

This research unit explores the historical roots of the Hebrew Bible and other religious texts from the same cultural milieu. The aim is to locate these ancient materials in the religious landscape of the ancient Near East and early Jewish communities, as well as to investigate their afterlives in later interpretative communities, paying particular attention to the following:

●        Historical Perspectives: The texts in their ancient Near Eastern and Second Temple Jewish contexts, including comparison with Ugaritic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman materials.

●        Literary Perspectives: These include but are not limited to the literary construction of texts, different methods of reading texts, and the question of canon formation in the Second Temple era.

●        Material Perspectives: Manuscript cultures, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as archaeological and artefactual objects from the contexts in which ancient religious texts were written, edited, used, and interpreted.

●        Intercultural Exchange: Tracing contact between cultures through migration, travel, and other forms of interaction, and how such contact leads to the adaptation and transformation of local communities.

●        Gender Perspectives: Societal constructions of gender and sexuality as well as their influence on ancient texts and vice versa.

●        Reception History: Interpretation of the texts of the Hebrew Bible through history, and investigation of their influence in theological, political, artistic, and other movements.

From February 2021 to January 2026, the research group hosts Elisa Uusimäki’s ERC funded projekt “An Intersectional Analysis of Ancient Jewish Travel Narratives”. See: An Intersectional Analysis of Ancient Jewish Travel Narratives (au.dk)



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