The Biblical World and Cultural Evolution


Cultural evolution is a fresh, multidisciplinary field of research, which investigates the variation, selection and transmission of human culture. The dual inheritance or biocultural approaches, in particular, consider the role of both biology and socially learned information in the evolutionary changes of human culture. Evolutionary approaches have gained acceptance because of their cogent theory and applicability to different areas of human culture, such as  language, technology, complex societies, and semiotic shifts. Culture is a highly semiotic phenomenon, being all about how meaning is made and remade, but alongside the qualitative study of culture, the cultural evolutionary approach applies various methods of quantitative modelling and statistical analysis, thus helping to bridge the gap between the information gained in the natural sciences and humanities.

The basic premise of the unit is that cultural evolutionary processes also produce the patterns of religious complexity and variation in religious systems. Applying this approach to the domain of the Bible, its world, and its reception means that scholars seek evolutionary explanations for the religious reality in the Ancient Near East, Late Antiquity and beyond.

This EABS unit proposes to be a wide scope platform where scholars who are developing their own cultural evolutionary approaches and studies can present their ideas and test them on interested colleagues. The unit also serves as a platform for the project “Early Christianity in Cultural Evolution”. 


Cognitive Science of Religion, Early Christianity, Early Judaism, Cultural Evolution, Emotions


Ronit Nikolsky
Groningen University

Nina Nikki University of Helsinki
Member Area

Wuppertal 2020 Call for Papers

The topic for the 2020 meeting is “Semiosis and the Digital in the Research of Cultural Evolution”.

Scholars working on these issues, whether from the theoretical aspect, or as case studies, are encouraged to submit papers about their research. We are looking for research into, among others, the place of pre, post or biblical cultures on cultural evolutionary lines, the contribution of digital methods and approaches to the study of cultural evolution of the biblical world, theorizing digitality, and theorizing semiosis.

In Wuppertal the research unit will have a session dedicated to the project Early Christianity and Cultural Evolution, an open session, and an invited one.

The Annual Conference 2020
has been cancelled.