Iconography and Biblical Studies


The research unit provides space for scholarly discourse linking the Hebrew Bible and New Testament scholarship for the study of ancient Near Eastern visual culture. While most of EABS's research units concern texts and literature, this research unit provides a much-needed space for the study of visual culture as part of the archaeology of the ancient Near East. The research unit encourages engagement beyond the biblical canon with visual culture from the ancient Levant, the Mediterranean, Egypt, and Mesopotamia and its reception. 


Archaeology provides essential data for understanding biblical literature in its historical contexts. An important branch of archaeology is iconography, the study of pictorial expressions. Visual expressions depict various subjects: the natural and cultivated world, daily life, rituals, and ideas. Studying visual material—contemporary and non-contemporary—to biblical literature (the Hebrew Bible and New Testament) affords insights into the historical contexts of the text. It facilitates an awareness of how the people contemporaneous with the text thought, imagined, and observed reality. The research unit “Iconography and Biblical Studies” is interdisciplinary. 


The research unit welcomes diverse approaches and methodologies, including iconographic, art historical, comparative, historical, and cognitive approaches, reception history, gender studies, political and hermeneutical methodologies. These approaches are applied to visual culture relevant for studying biblical literature, its contexts, and contemporary interpretation.


Iconography, Exegesis (Hebrew Bible and New Testament), Archaeology (including sphragistics, coroplastics, and numismatics), Hermeneutics, Reception History

Current Term:



Bruno Bierman
University of Zurich and University of Bern 

Izaak J. de Hulster
University of Helsinki and Georg-August-University in Göttingen 

Laura Gonnermann

University of Leipzig 

Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

For the 2024 conference in Sofia, we plan a thematic session on gender, particularly the representations, roles, interactions, etc. This may include theoretical and methodological explorations and topics such as femininities and masculinities, gender beyond the binary, intersectionalities of power, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, etc. We encourage contributions engaging these or related topics from iconographic perspectives and will feature invited papers as well as submitted paper proposals on this topic.

Given the context of the conference, we encourage papers on orthodox iconography, especially from an iconological perspective. If there is enough interest, this may grow into a second thematic session. We also welcome papers for an open session within the general parameters of our Iconography and the Bible section (see above). Abstracts of not more than 300 words should be submitted through the 2024 conference's platform.