Emotions and the Biblical World


The last few decades have witnessed a growing interest in the study of emotions among scholars of antiquity, reflecting a more general interest among scholars of various disciplines in how different societies throughout the centuries have conceptualised and represented emotions. The Emotions and the Biblical World research group explores the role that emotions play in biblical writings, and in Early Judaism and Early Christianity more generally. This includes but is not limited to patterns of articulating emotions, their significance in worship and broadly understood religious experience, the role of emotions in strategies of persuasion, the vocabulary used to describe emotions and their manifestations, translating emotions discourse, as well as the social and cultural factors that influence their expression, suppression or repression, with a particular focus on the relationship between emotions and gender, and between emotions and the construction of otherness. The literary corpora that we consider are not limited to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, but include also other Early Jewish and Early Christian writings.


Dominika Kurek-Chomycz
Liverpool Hope University 

Françoise Mirguet
Arizona State University

Ronit Nikolsky
Groningen University

Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

We plan to hold three sessions in 2023. 


For the first session, we welcome paper proposals in relation to the broad topic of “divine” emotions. In this context, we welcome abstracts addressing, albeit not limited to, one or more of the following questions or issues:

  • What emotions are ascribed to (the) deity/ies in literary and/or iconographic sources?
  • How is/are (the) deity/ies envisaged to manage their emotions?
  • Are “divine” emotions different from human ones? Are they modelled on one another? If so, in what direction are they modelled?
  • Are there emotions which are considered more appropriate for the divine, and if so, how is this determined? 
  • The reception and interpretation of texts ascribing emotions to (the) deity/ies in antiquity and beyond.
  • The ancient (and modern) philosophical and theological objections to attributing emotions to (the) deity/ies. What hermeneutical strategies have been employed to deal with authoritative texts considered to be problematic in this regard?

Studies on both textual and visual material are welcome. Papers that engage Syracuse’s/Sicily’s monuments and archaeological past are encouraged. 


The second session will be devoted to a methodological theme: the cognitive approach to studying emotions. Here papers are encouraged to look into what the cognitive approach contributes to the study of emotions, and what is the difference between this approach and the more common History of Emotions approach. We welcome both theoretical papers and case studies.


We also plan to hold an open session, offering an opportunity to present work along the goals of the unit as specified in the research group description above, whether from a theoretical perspective or as case studies.