Ancient Jewish and Christian Religions in their Broader Religious Landscapes


If we were to imagine the Mediterranean basin in Antiquity, we would willingly agree with Keith Hopkins, and Plato much before him, in describing it as “a world full of gods”. This is true because of the more central role of religion in everyday matters, especially due to the absence of separation between “religious” and “secular”, which seems today, on the contrary, crucial. Moreover, hundreds of gods and thousands of divine names were visible, audible or, in one word, present everywhere. The landscape, arts, calendar, toponymy, and onomastic were also saturated by gods, by means of their effigies, their temples and goods or simply their names. Such a proliferation is equally due to the extreme mobility of specific gods who “travelled” throughout the known world. Many years passed since the time when ancient Judaism and Christianism were considered exceptions in such a context. This Research Unit aims, however, at fostering the understanding the religious aspects (rituals, literature, divine names and iconographies, cult places, etc.) of “biblical religions” – both Old and New Testament – as part of the religious landscape of the Mediterranean and in particular of the Levant.


Old and New Testament Studies, Biblical Theology, Ancient Near East Religion and Iconography, Mediterranean Studies, Semitic and Greco-Roman Epigraphy

Current Term:



Corinne Bonnet

University of Toulouse

Christophe Nihan
University of Münster

Fabio Porzia
Research Council of Italy (CNR) - Institute of Heritage Science (ISPC)

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

The comparative method has become an indispensable tool for historians of religion, including in the region of the Levant where, for a long time, the irreducible differences between monotheism and polytheism, between Welt and Umwelt, have been emphasised. It is true that making comparisons presupposes the construction of a shared object, which is not always easy. This year the Research Unit accept papers working with notions such as “religious landscape”, and global or glocal religion, or similar notions. The final goal is to discuss new models that allow to conceptualise the articulation between “the particular” and “the general”, “the local” and “the regional”. In a true comparative perspective, papers from all the fields and periods are welcome.