Historical Approaches to the Bible and the Biblical World


This research unit is dedicated to providing an interdisciplinary forum for cooperation between biblical scholars, historians, archaeologists, etc. It is based on the realization that the reconstruction of the history of ancient Israel/Palestine has to correlate biblical and extra-biblical sources (archaeology, epigraphy, iconography, numismatics, etc.). Thus, the research unit will engage in a critical methodological discourse on the role of all available and relevant sources for a “Geschichte Israels”, their interpretation in their own right and their combination. Moreover, the unit’s research is committed to a broader comparative approach, by bringing together experts on the history of ancient Israel/Palestine and scholars dealing with other regions of the ancient world, whose expertise can facilitate a new understanding of biblical scholars’, historians’, etc. own methods and objects of study.


History of Ancient Israel/Palestine, Bible, Archaeology, Iconography, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Methodology

Current Term:



Sarah Hollaender
University of Graz 

Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spano
University of Warsaw

Katharina Pyschny

University of Graz

Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

In reconstructing the history of Israel/Palestine, it is critical to assess both biblical and extra-biblical sources. Last year, the unit HABBW met to discuss relevant textual sources, including cuneiform tablets and epigraphic evidence. This year, we will turn our attention to the iconography of Persian and (early) Hellenistic times, such as figurines, seals, and coins. What can these visual sources tell us about the religious-historical landscape of these periods? Moreover, how did these potentially impact diverse and regionally differentiated Yahwisms, whether in Yehud, Samaria, or other areas? What kind of contact and exchange phenomena and process (e.g., Egyptian, Phoenician, Persian, Greek) are represented in the iconographic record? How can they be interpreted for a renewed history of religion? The session will serve as an interdisciplinary forum for researchers from the fields of biblical studies and material culture studies especially, in order to produce new insights. We invite presenters to submit abstracts, clearly indicating the types of objects presented, the methodological background, and how this will contribute to our understanding of the religious history of Israel/Palestine. 

In addition to the session on "Iconographic Perspectives on a Renewed History of Religion in Persian and Early Hellenistic Israel/Palestine" the research unit will organise an open session consisting of a diverse set of papers dealing with the history of ancient Israel.