I have been at Nottingham since 2011, where I teach and research in a number of areas relating to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and Hebrew language. I also direct the Centre for Bible, Ethics and Theology, which aims to bring together biblical and historical scholars with systematic and philosophical theologians to address contemporary issues in theology and religious studies. We have a regular programme of workshops and events bringing together scholars and members of the public, including most recently a day conference on forced migration and the book of Jeremiah, and a regular Biblical Seminar.
A native Californian, I did my first degree at Scripps College in Claremont, Ca., focusing mainly on twentieth century theology and ethics, then moved to Oxford to pursue ethics in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament under the supervision of John Barton. Before coming to Nottingham I held research fellowships at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Keble College, Oxford, where I also taught in the Faculties of Divinity (Cambridge) and Theology (Oxford).
My research focuses on the social and intellectual world of ancient Israel, with particular attention to the intersections of religion, ethics, and identity. I am especially interested in integration into biblical studies of insights from other disciplines, especially the social sciences. This has, thus far, led to monographs examining the intersection between creation theology and ethics in the conduct of war (War and Ethics), the social context of Deuteronomy's distinctively Israelite ethics (The Making of Israel), and the relationship between Deuteronomy's emphasis on exclusive loyalty to Yhwh and Assyrian loyalty oaths (Israel and the Assyrians). My current project is trying to understand the nature of and the relationships between the multiple identities referred to as Israel and as Judah, focusing in the first instance on Jeremiah and Ezekiel and on the effects of the fall of Jerusalem on these two identities. Alongside these major projects I also have ongoing interests in the book of Genesis and in the prophetic books.
I research and teach across a range of subjects in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, from the History, Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Bible module for first year undergraduates to specialist… read more
Building on my work in The Making of Israel, my current research concerns the historical and ideological relationship between Israel and Judah, trying to understand the way that the biblical texts… read more
My doctoral students work on a diverse range of subjects, including religious polemic in the eighth to sixth centuries BCE, literary approaches to the Song of Songs, divine emotion in the Twelve, the ethics of nudity, biblical attitudes to the Other, and the conceptualisation of colour in the ancient world. This year they have had articles accepted in Journal of Theological Studies, Vetus Testamentum, and Journal of Biblical Literature; multiple successes in the AHRC funding scheme; and conference papers at the Annual and International Meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature.
I am interested in supervising study into most aspects of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. My particular specialties include ethics in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near East; issues pertaining to warfare; the histories of Israel and Judah; ethnic and nationalist identity formation; prophecy and the prophetic books; and the book of Deuteronomy.
For information about funding, see below.
Tarah Van De Wiele
Research areas in which proposals are particularly welcome:
Ethics in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East: This research area focuses on ethical norms in ancient Israel and Judah and the comparative study of these norms in their ancient Near Eastern context. Possible PhD topics could include research into sexuality; violence at the state, community or family level; concepts of social justice; ethics in one or more of the prophetic books; the intersection between law and ethics; or the social function of ethics in particular historical contexts. Proposals in 'Old Testament ethics' are also welcome.
Prophecy and the Prophetic Books: The prophetic texts constitute one of the most intriguing and most fruitful areas of research in the biblical canon. Research in the prophetic books might take the form of redactional studies of particular books; literary analyses of certain books or passages; historical discussions taking the prophetic texts as a starting point; or thematic studies addressing particular topics (e.g., sin and punishment, ethics, attitudes toward cult, social justice, social context of prophet and/or audience).
Deuteronomy: Situated at the intersection of Pentateuch and the (so-called) Deuteronomistic History and the source for much of the theology of the biblical literature, Deuteronomy has a critical place in biblical research. Research on Deuteronomy might include thematic, literary, redactional or historical topics. Proposals on topics in ethics are particularly welcome.
History of Israel and Judah: The history and historiography of Israel and Judah, via both the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical evidence, continues to be a major research subject in biblical studies. PhD topics in this area could cover any aspect of the history of Israel and Judah from the pre-monarchic to post-exilic periods, focusing on specific individuals, groups, events or books.
Warfare in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East: This research area addresses the norms, practices and consequences of warfare in Israel and Judah, the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East. Research topics in this area might include the study of warfare in particular biblical books; reconstructions of military practices in Israel and Judah on the basis of biblical texts and archaeological evidence; analysis of interaction and influence among ancient Near Eastern militaries; or examination of the ideological, theological or ethical aspects of warfare.
History and Tradition: A major area of research in biblical studies is the way in which historical persons and places are depicted and used for rhetorical, literary and theological purposes. Possible PhD research in this area could include studies of the role of Nebuchadnezzar in the biblical prophetic or historical texts; the development of Jerusalem and Babylon from physical cities to symbolic figures in the prophetic material; or the characterisation of the Assyrian empire in prophetic and historical texts.
Bible and Empire: Assyria: The Assyrian imperial system provides the background for much of the biblical history and text. This research area seeks to understand interaction with and the influence of Assyrian culture - religion, literature, art, administration, etc - on the southern Levant in general and on the biblical texts and their historical contexts in particular. Possible PhD topics could include studies of the influence of Assyrian literary traditions on particular biblical texts; interaction between Assyrian and Judahite religious traditions; or the effect of Assyrian dominance on Judahite administrative practices, historical trajectory or literature.
Information about fees and funding for both UK/EU and international students in Theology and Religious Studies is available here. Prospective students in Hebrew Bible may particularly wish to attend to the Memorial Scholarship, which is available for students working at masters or doctoral level in Hebrew Bible.
Information about alternative sources of funding may be found here.
AHRC Midlands3Cities funding for UK/EU students The Midlands3Cities doctoral training partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Montfort, Birmingham and Birmingham City. The DTP will be in the fifth of five years in the next competition, awarding Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships for UK/EU applicants for 2017 entry. M3C provides research candidates with cross-institutional mentoring, expert supervision (including cross-institutional supervision where appropriate), subject-specific and generic training, and professional support in preparing for a career.
The deadline for AHRC M3C funding applications will be in mid-January 2018, by which time students must have applied for a place to study and have provided two references to a university within the DTP. Applicants are strongly advised to be in contact with the prospective supervisor(s) at an early stage of the process for advice and support. For full details of eligibility, funding and research supervision areas (including use of the supervision search tool) please visit www.midlands3cities.ac.uk or contact email@example.com
Information and proposal-writing workshops will be hosted in each of the three partner cities.
I research and teach across a range of subjects in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, from the History, Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Bible module for first year undergraduates to specialist subjects for second and third year undergraduates and taught masters students. I also teach Biblical Hebrew. I am interested in supervising study into most aspects of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; my particular specialties include ethics in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; issues pertaining to warfare; the histories of Israel and Judah; ethnic identity formation; prophecy and the prophetic books; and the book of Deuteronomy.
I will be on research leave during spring and autumn semesters in 2018.
History, Literature and Theology of the Hebrew Bible: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament for students in Theology and Religious Studies, covering theologies of creation, the ancestral and exodus narratives, historical and ethical concerns in Joshua-Kings, the prophets, and the implications of the exile for belief.
'Why Study....the Hebrew Bible?'
Prophets and Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible: A combined lecture and seminar module on the prophetic texts in their biblical and ancient Near Eastern contexts, discussing the phenomenon of prophecy, prophetic responses to crisis, the formation of prophetic books, and contemporary interpretative approaches to prophetic texts. .
Ethics and the Hebrew Bible: Seminar addressing major ethical and theological issues raised by the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament's diverse legal, narrative, and poetic traditions and considering the relevance of the texts' ancient contexts for understanding and modern use.
'Why Study…Sex and Ethics in the Hebrew Bible?'
Archaeological Excavation: Tel Azekah, Israel: On-site module at Tel Azekah, Israel, in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Intermediate Biblical Hebrew: Introductions to the basics of Biblical Hebrew, followed by reading classes covering narrative, poetic, and prophetic Hebrew texts and building on skills developed in the introductory course.
More information on these modules is available through the module catalogue.
Seminars on theory and method in the advanced study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Topics are determined in consultation with the students and have included the book of Micah, kingship in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, ethics and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, major biblical figures, historiography, advanced Hebrew texts, and Akkadian.
See Postgraduate Study
Building on my work in The Making of Israel, my current research concerns the historical and ideological relationship between Israel and Judah, trying to understand the way that the biblical texts speak to and about these two entities. My long-term goal is to revise our understanding of the nature, origins, and history of Israel and Judah, and to do this by approaching the biblical and extra-biblical texts through an interdisciplinary lens: integrating textual analysis and archaeological data with social-scientific research on the construction and development of identity narratives in response to social and political change.
At present this work is focussed on the effect on Israelite and Judahite identities of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. My attention has been on the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and on bringing in insights gleaned from the social sciences to understand the way that they conceive of Israel and Judah. Current research on forced migration, including the impact of migration on narratives about the past and on relationships to the homeland, has proved enormously helpful, as have analyses of imperial domination and its effect on native identities, including the amalgamation of disparate socio-economic classes and the invocation (or invention) of unifying traditions in the face of colonial power. An essay stemming from this work recently won the David Noel Freedman Award from the Society of Biblical Literature.
The first stage of this project was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation. During eight months as a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Göttingen in 2015, I conducted a close textual study of the book of Jeremiah, designed to test and refine the project's methodology. (In the process, I also wrote An Introduction to the Study of Jeremiah, which appeared with Bloomsbury this year.) As a Visiting Research Scholar at St John's College, Oxford in 2016, I extended my investigation into the book of Ezekiel, and I will continue this work in 2017 as I take up a Canon Symonds Memorial Scholarship at the Gladstone Library in Wales. I will spend 2018 working on the project in Cambridge, as the S.A. Cook Bye-Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.
My doctoral work comprised an analysis of military ethics in Judah, Assyria and Israel, concluding that war violence was justified via literary allusions to a creation myth in which the divine king defeated the waters of chaos in battle (War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East). I explored the implications of the exilic experience on the Judahite version of this military theology in a series of articles focusing on prophetic material in Ezekiel and Deutero-Isaiah. Each prophet responded to the challenge of defeat in his own way: Ezekiel launched a staunch defence of Yahweh's royal role as divine king and warrior, while Deutero-Isaiah pulled apart the roles of king, warrior and creator to eliminate their problematic interdependence. For more about how I reached these conclusions, see here.
My interest in the historical and theological context of ethical mandates led to The Making of Israel: Cultural Diversity in the Southern Levant and the Formation of Ethnic Identity in Deuteronomy (Brill, 2014), focussing especially on the relationship between ethics, ethnic identity and theology. I argued that the southern Levant during the seventh century BCE was a major period for the formation of Israelite ethnic identity, challenging scholarship which dates biblical texts with identity concerns to the exilic and post-exilic periods as well as scholarship which limits pre-exilic identity concerns to Josianic nationalism. The argument analysed the archaeological material from the southern Levant during Iron Age II, then drew on anthropological research to argue for an ethnic response to the economic, political and cultural change of this period. The volume concluded with an investigation into identity issues in Deuteronomy, highlighting centralisation and exclusive Yahwism as part of the deuteronomic formulation of Israelite ethnic identity.
In the midst of my work on Israelite ethnic identity and the book of Deuteronomy, I had cause to reflect on the widely accepted theory that Deuteronomy, especially in chapters 13 and 28, is a subversive literary reception of the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon. In Israel and the Assyrians: Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion (Society of Biblical Literature, 2014) I challenged this theory, arguing that the evidence for such a relationship between Deuteronomy and the Succession Treaty is wholly inadequate. I also rejected the suggestion that Deuteronomy is a subversive appropriation of more general Assyrian concepts of political loyalty. To achieve this I drew on theories of adaptation and allusion, providing the theoretical foundation for a discussion of subversion and its detection and staking my claim in one of the most contentious areas of the discipline. The argument undermines a major touchstone for the pre-exilic dating of Deuteronomy as well as problematising the Israelites' relationship with the Assyrian empire more widely. For more on how I reached these conclusions, see here.