Anthropology and the Bible


The aim of this unit is to foster ethnographic readings of biblical stories, both Old and New Testaments, and anthropological perspectives on the archaeology, the history and the literature of ancient Palestine in its Near Eastern context. Relevant topics for discussion are:

  • Political and historical anthropology of ancient Palestine (city-states, urbanization, state-formation processes, ethnogenesis).
  • Mediterranean anthropology in biblical narrative (patronage, hospitality, feud, honour and shame, food).
  • Sociology and anthropology of religion and ancient Palestinian cultic and ritual data (aniconism, iconography, burial, cultic places, etc.).
  • Sociology and anthropology of biblical studies (the production of academic knowledge and its impact on society).
  • Comparative analysis of Biblical and Eastern Mediterranean literature from an anthropological perspective.


Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ethnographic method, Old Testament, New Testament, East Mediterranean


Anne Katrine Gudme

University of Oslo

Emanuel Pfoh

CONICET and University of Helsinki

Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

For the 2023 EABS meeting in Syracuse, the “Anthropology and the Bible” group will have a special session devoted to the concept and the practice of patronage, or patron-client relationships, and their usefulness for understanding social and political structures both in the narrative world of the Bible and in the history of ancient Palestine. This session will have mostly invited papers, but do get in touch with the research unit's chairs if you are interested in submitting a proposal for this session.


We also invite paper proposals for an open session addressing other topics related in general to anthropology and the Bible. Please see the description of the research unit above for topics.


Finally, we plan to mark and celebrate the publication of the new T & T Clark Handbook of Anthropology and the Hebrew Bible (Bloomsbury), edited by E. Pfoh, during the meeting in Syracuse.