For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
The Bible in the 21st Century

The Bible in the 21st Century

This project belongs to the following research constellations:

Cultural & Social Critique


Jan Willem van Henten


Staff: Athalya Brenner, Jan Willem van Henten , Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Caroline Vander Stichele Richard van Leeuwen

PhD candidates: Emma England, Ingeborg Löwisch, Sara Szmodis, Pieter de Vries


Notwithstanding the ongoing secularisation and individualization of Western culture, what is often called “the Bible” still has an enormous cultural impact. In fact, “the Bible” is an umbrella term and an abstraction, since de facto several bibles function as a collection of authoritative writings (i.e. a “canon”) for Jews, Christians and to a certain extent also Muslims. Bibles not only help to find meaning in life, but also have a significant cultural importance, since they are inextricably bound up with the genesis and ongoing transmission of European culture. Even for non-believers “the Bible” still functions as an important frame of reference or even a source of inspiration for various forms of art. Remarkably, theologians and cultural historians pay very little attention to the actualised meanings of bibles. They focus mainly upon the origin of the biblical writings and their meanings in the original social and cultural settings, or in confessional contexts. The present research program endeavours to problematize the actual authoritative and cultural meanings of bibles by focusing upon the processes of transmission and actualisation of biblical texts up to and including the twenty-first century.


2006 Seminar (with Tel Aviv University, Haifa University and others), Narrative and Memory in the Bible and beyond; 2007 All Saints’ Day Conference; Since 2006 Book Series with Sheffield Phoenix Press, Amsterdam Studies in Bible and Religion; 2006 Book of essays published in series (seminar of 2004); 2008 Book of essays to be published in the series (seminar 2006); 2008 Book by a US scholar to be published in the series.