Current Research Interests


My professional training in the 1970‘s and -80‘s followed the Scandinavian–German pattern, with an emphasis upon a broad theological education. Training in biblical studies had a definite focus upon classical philology (Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and later I also worked some with Assyrian and Ugaritic) and upon what would now be called modernist exegetical methods and literature (Literarkritik, Formkritik, Traditionsgeschichte, Redaktionsgescichte). My training also included comparative Ancient Near Eastern studies.

    Like many in the Nordic biblical guild I experienced a disenchantment of the conventional paradigm and a fascination for hermeneutic philosophy, for literary biblical interpretation (with a focus on narrative and metaphorical analysis), and for postcolonial aspects of biblical interpretation. A combination of historical and various literary methods was reflected in my dissertation Echoes of Eden, where I tried to offer a cultural analysis of the symbol of the Garden (of Eden) and also a ‘thick’ interpretation of this symbol as it is invested throughout biblical and other early Hebrew literature.

    My focus still includes a textual orientation, but in recent time I have also allowed myself to become inspired both by material aspects both of the production of ancient texts and by conventional historical study of the world into which these texts were written. The epigraphic and archaeological record has gained more importance in my study, along also with analytical and theoretical advances such as comparative studies of canonization and of collective memory.

    Since the relevant literature in all these subjects is fairly international, I try to keep up with relevant English, German, and French literature (in addition, of course, to Scandinavian). Occasionally I also do work my way through a Flemish, Italian, or Spanish publication – admittedly not without an effort....


Current Research Interests

Presently my research interests focus on these areas:

  1. Religion and society in the ancient Levant. This project is linked to the LDG project, and in short the objective is to identify various social fields in which religious practices were set, and then to explore the exchange and mutual influences in religious practice and sentiment between those fields. Again, the literary and archaeological records are preferably interpreted in light of collective memory studies. Included in this are also studies of particular religious motifs, such as ‘mother earth’, and also of traditional theological motifs.

  2. Ancient Hebrew and West Asian wisdom literature. My favourite topic in this field is the biblical Book of Job, which I have tried to explore by various analytical means (Bakhtin, collective memory studies, canonization studies, etc.) It is evident that this book needs to be studied in a broader, ancient Asian environment. For this purpose I have for instance taught a course on ancient Asian sapiential literature (from Egypt to China).

  3. Canon, canonization and canonicity has been on my agenda for some years, in wide comparative and theoretical perspectives. Further down the road I hope to be able to publish a monograph that takes this perspective as a main aspect for interpreting biblical Hebrew literature and the continued readings of that literature. In this connection it is also important to consider the many ancient media in which religion was performed, and how these may have interacted in a given historical case.

  4. Another long-standing interest has been the anthropology surfacing in ancient Hebrew and other Near Eastern literatures and cultures. I seem continually fascinated by the alternative spectacles that these texts offer us for interpreting our own human existence.

  5. As the Research Co-ordinator of the PluRel network I let myself be involved also in a few cross disciplinary projects. One of them is a comparative study of strategies for sacralisation of place and my part in this has been to extend my studies of the Garden Eden all the way to Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia. Another project is a comparative cultural history of meditation. In this group it shall be my obligation to identify and hopefully interpret literary remains of meditative practices in classical Hebrew literature.

Further pages

My various research interests are in different ways reflected in the bibliography, and also in the section on scholarly presentation and works that are not yet properly published.One might also wish to see the list of research networks, conferences, etc. or to take a look at PhD projects I am or have been advising.