The Biblical World and its Reception


This seminar aims to provide a forum in which participants can engage in theoretical issues pertaining to the reception of “the biblical world” throughout the last 2,500 years and/or present specific examples of how biblical and cognate texts have been appropriated within later cultural, political, and artistic contexts (including, but not limited to, literature, art, music, and film). Insights drawn from a wide range of disciplines are encouraged and the reception history of any relevant text from the biblical period will be considered suitable material for presentation and discussion.




Reception, Impact, Use, Influence, Culture, Politics, Literature, Art, Music, Film


Matthew A. Collins
University of Chester

Zanne Domoney-Lyttle
University of Glasgow

Member Area

Syracuse 2023

For the 2023 meeting in Syracuse, “The Biblical World and Its Reception” unit will be holding two/three sessions.


This year we are especially interested in papers which focus on the Bible, theatre, and musicals, marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the West End (1973) and the film release of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). A wide range of theatrical and/or musical usages of the Bible, both on stage and screen, might be suitable for consideration, examining the ways in which the medium has adapted, interpreted, and drawn upon biblical texts and traditions.


As usual, however, we also welcome papers on any topic that is relevant to the unit’s general interests in the reception, influence, and impact of the Bible.


Past Meetings 

Toulouse 2022

For Toulouse, the unit ran three hybrid sessions, with presenters/audience both in Toulouse and online. The first two sessions focused on “The Bible and Art”, beginning with three papers on “Methodological Approaches” (considering multimodal discourse analysis, cultural hermeneutics, and liberative reception criticism) followed by two papers on “Art as Biblical Interpretation” (examining the book of Ruth in Pre-Raphaelite painting, and William Blake and the Joban beasts). The third session consisted of four papers on the topic of “Biblical Women and their Afterlives”, including two on Sarah and the Akedah (in relation to both The Handmaid’s Tale and Jewish American women’s poetry), the reception history of Jezebel, and Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus in fan fiction.

Wuppertal 2020/2021

Because of Covid-19, the 2020 meeting in Wuppertal was postponed to 2021 and moved online. The unit held two sessions. The first included four papers on the topic of “The Bible and Visual Media”, considering biblical reception in television, film, and comics/graphic novels. The second consisted of three papers on the topic of “Biblical Women and their Afterlives”, including examination of a Sanskrit retelling of Bathsheba, the literary works of Margaret Atwood, and Dinah’s rape in Jewish American women’s poetry and the #MeToo movement.

Warsaw 2019

In Warsaw, the seminar held two sessions. The first consisted of four papers on the topic of media, visual arts, and identity, focusing on topics such as biblical archaeology and the media, Christian dating sites and the reception history of Ruth, and the Song of Songs in poetry and art. The second session included two papers on the ancient and modern reception of key texts, focusing in particular on rabbinic reception of Ezra and Nehemiah, and contemporary Ghanaian reception of the Lord’s Prayer.

Helsinki 2018
For Helsinki, the seminar held three joint sessions with the ISBL’s “Bible and Its Influence: History and Impact” group. The first contained three papers on the topic of the Bible and blasphemy. The other two sessions consisted of seven papers on topics as diverse as the use of the Bible in Jewish epitaphs and cemeteries, the history of biblical criticism, the Bible in literature, film, and drama (from horror movies to Sherlock Holmes), the Bible and Gandhi, and the Bible and sex robots.

Berlin 2017
In Berlin, the seminar held five joint sessions with the ISBL’s “Bible and Its Influence: History and Impact” group. Two of these consisted of invited papers on the topic of the Bible and the Six-Day War, marking the 50th anniversary of the conflict. A third session included four papers on the Bible and the German intellectual tradition, while the remaining sessions included six papers on the Bible in culture (including literature, film, and Lego) and in specific geographical, anthropological, and historical contexts (including Greenland, Namibia, and South Africa).

Leuven 2016
For Leuven, the seminar held two sessions. One included three papers examining the use and reception of the Bible in the cultural context of the First World War, marking the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme. The other consisted of four papers addressing a variety of topics, including the Bible and Dadaism, the Bible and literature, 19th-century Jewish biblical commentary, and the intersections between textual redaction and reception history.

Cordoba 2015
In Cordoba, the seminar held three sessions. One was made up of four papers focused on aspects of the Bible in Spain and/or Islam, another constituted four papers examining the use of the Bible in literature and/or drama, and a third session included papers on topics as diverse as the Bible and visual arts, the Bible and anthropology, and the reception of the Bible in India. 

Vienna 2014
For Vienna, the seminar held two joint sessions with the ISBL’s “Bible and Its Influence: History and Impact” group. One session included two papers on music-related topics and two papers on war-related topics.  The other session included presentations on the Namha Bible of India, contextual Bible study with children in the UK, US politics and the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and the biblical exegesis of Frederich Nausea.