The core mission of Old Testament studies is to examine the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament scriptures in a diverse manner. Traditional historical criticism studies the form, origin and interdependence of Old Testament scriptures, as well as their interpretative elements and different-aged layers. The scriptures can be approached from several perspectives: through linguistics, history, literary history, social history, theology or religious history.
Many archaeological discoveries have broadened horizons in Old Testament studies. For example, writings from the Ancient Middle East have provided ample parallel material to Old Testament phenomena and occurrences, shedding light on, for example, religion in the Ancient Middle East, the phenomenon of prophesying and the politics of the great powers in relation to their conquests. Archaeological finds in Palestine and its surrounding areas have helped us better understand Israel’s history and social history, and the findings at Qumran have offered us insights into the history of Judaism around the beginning of the Christian era. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, and the included apocrypha, offer us a different viewpoint: that of the Greek diaspora. The Septuagint, in addition to the manuscript fragments found at Qumran, is indeed the key to defining the Old Testament’s textual history.
New Testament studies include the study of the New Testament and related themes, such as the apocryphal gospels, Gnosticism, Judaism in the time of Jesus, and the early developments of Christianity after the New Testament.
Traditionally, New Testament studies has interpreted New Testament scriptures and other early Christian writings from a historical perspective, but it has also long applied methods from other disciplines, including social studies and the study of literature. Research focuses on the New Testament's social world and on how early Christian groups defined themselves in relation to each other and society. Many theological trends, such as postcolonial and feminist theology, have also shaped the themes and perspectives applied in New Testament studies.
Below is a list of persons employed by the Department of Biblical Studies. Professors emeritus/emerita and grant-funded researchers can be searched by name in the University’s Research Portal.