Perceptions and Receptions of Persia (PERSIAS)


This research group seeks to explore perceptions and receptions of Persia in Judean writings from Yehud/Judaea, Samaria, Babylon, and Egypt in Antiquity. Our research aims at scrutinizing why Persia is such a fertile symbol or cipher with which to construct meaning among Judean minorities under Empire, that is, in Persian, Hellenistic and Roman times. We will especially emphasize that these perceptions and receptions were produced among subaltern groups across a variety of socio-cultural systems within a vast geographical area including the ancient Levant, Mesopotamia and Egypt. PERSIAS aims at stimulating multidisciplinary discussions on theoretical and methodological perspectives related to appropriations of conceptualizations, memories, and multifaceted imaginations of Persia, with particular emphasis on local patterns of perception and reception, transmission and translation within approaches grounded on cross-cultural studies. The research group aims at advancing a critical reflection on cultural encounters and dynamics in the Ancient world.


Achaemenid Empire, Historiography, Reception, Postcolonial Studies, Ancient Near East, Yehud, Hebrew Bible


Kristin Joachimsen

MF-Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

Kristin De Troyer
University of Salzburg

Ehud Ben Zvi

University of Alberta

Member Area

Toulouse 2022 Call for Papers

Presences and Absences of Persian God(s), Kings, and Queens

The research unit PERSIAS examines imaginations of Persia in Jewish writings of different historical, geographical, social, and cultural contexts from mid-6th century BCE to 6th century CE. These two sections aim at reaching a deeper understanding of these various groups’ entanglement in different imperial settings, focused on presentations of the god(s), kings, and queens of Persia in selected writings. We will explore how such writings convey local negotiations of power relations with the empire, maintaining a position of strength in the imperial hierarchy while fostering the identity of the subaltern groups through the uses of symbols and practices. We invite contributions analyzing when royal figures are interpreted through the framework of Persia and where they have instead become ciphers for contemporary rulers. This includes writings in the current Hebrew Bible produced in the Persian period and writings representing different Jewish groups in subsequent periods when the actual rulers were Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Hasmonean kings, Roman emperors, or Sasanian rule. By a comparative lens, we will also contribute to bridging the lack of Iranian and Graeco-Roman sources concerning the Levant in the Achaemenid and later periods by contextualizing sources with an imperial perspective. The sessions will be combined with invited papers and an open call for papers. We plan to publish the contributions in an anthology.