The Institute for Early Christian and Byzantine Studies of the Greek department at KU Leuven is seeking to employ one well-qualified research fellow for two years, at the level of PhD student. The successful candidate will work on a project on the political application of biblical exegesis at the Byzantine court of the ninth to eleventh centuries. The project is funded by the research council of KU Leuven, and the fellowship involves collaboration with the Universität zu Köln.
The project aims to document, interpret and explain the role of biblical exegesis in the justification of anti-Jewish measures taken by emperors of the Macedonian dynasty. Those measures were inspired mainly by political and ideological instead of religious reasons (and were as a rule not approved by the church). In a process of justifying them from a theological perspective, literature was written that quotes passages from the Bible and explains them in an appropriate fashion, finding biblical approval for the imperial anti-Jewish policy. This can be observed in a varied corpus of essentially non-exegetical texts linked to the court of the Macedonian emperors: letters, question-and-answer literature, anacreontic poetry, adversus Iudaeos literature, legal texts etc. It is the aim of the project to chart this literary corpus and to investigate the way it deals with biblical exegesis. This involves the identification of biblical passages that tend to be selected and the analysis of interpretative approaches as well as comparison with contemporary exegesis issued by the Church and an interpretation of these data in relation to Byzantine history.
The successful candidate will be expected to complete a doctoral dissertation in the framework of this project. The precise topic of the dissertation will tie in with the candidate’s interests and will be determined in dialogue with the supervisors, professors Reinhart Ceulemans (Leuven) and Claudia Sode (Köln). The thesis will be written in English or German.
The dissertation will be a joint degree, from KU Leuven (main institution) and the Universität zu Köln. The first two years are fully funded by KU Leuven, and the successful candidate will be expected to work in Leuven. In the course of that period, funding bodies in Belgium, Germany and elsewhere will be solicited, both by the supervisor and by the candidate, to fund the remaining time needed to complete the dissertation. In this regard, the candidate will be expected to work in Köln for a minimum of six months.
The candidate will pursue her/his own PhD research but is expected to actively contribute to the scholarly activities of the research group (such as participation in joint publications and the organization of conferences) and to devote a maximum of 20% of her/his time to service to the department and faculty and limited teaching assistance.
The successful candidate will have:
- an MA degree in Classics or Byzantine studies
- a strong command of classical Greek, and at least good notions of medieval Greek
- competence in Byzantine literature and history and a demonstrable interest in research on those fields
- experience and an interest in biblical studies
- very good knowledge of English or German and at least good reading skills of several other languages relevant to the field (such as French, Italian, Modern Greek);
- the attitude to contribute to a research team and to be open to international collaboration and mobility; the willingness to participate in the search for further project funding