Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme new associate professor in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
She is an award-winning researcher with extensive international experience. Old Testament scholar Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme has already achieved more than most at her career stage, and it all started with a fascination for fantasy literature and Greek mythology!
Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme. Foto: Ingeborg Skrindebakke/TF-UiO
Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme grew up in Denmark and did most of her university education at the University of Copenhagen.
“I started a BA in Assyriology in 1999, but I quickly became interested in comparing Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (HB/OT) texts with other Ancient near Eastern literature. So I moved to Theology and did a BA, an MA and a PhD in HB/OT there,” Gudme tells us.
For most of her career, she has worked at the Faculty of Theology in Copenhagen, roughly from 2011-2019. But she has also been a teaching fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK, as well as a visiting researcher at Georg-August Universität in Göttingen, Germany, and at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Already as a student, Gudme went abroad and gained international experience.
“When I was still a student, I visited the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to study Biblical Hebrew, and I have been a visiting student at Oxford University in the UK and at Brown University in Providence, RI.”
Focuses on rituals and material religion
“Broadly speaking, my research has focused on ritual in the HB/OT, and on HB/OT religion in its historical and cultural context,” Gudme says.
Her PhD thesis, published in 2013, was on the practice of giving gifts to the gods, so-called 'votive practice'. Here she compared the dedicatory inscriptions from the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim (ca. 450-110 BCE) with other roughly contemporary Aramaic dedicatory inscriptions and with texts from the HB/OT.
“In a way, I have continued studying ritual, but I have expanded my focus to include 'social ritual', such as gift-giving, meals and hospitality, alongside religious ritual, such as sacrifices and offerings,” Gudme explains, and continues:
“In recent years, I have also taken a keen interest in the material aspects of religion and religious practices, and I have used this 'material religion'-perspective to study funerary spaces and mortuary practices in early Judaism and Christianity.”
From fantasy to Old Testament
Gudme’s interest in her field of research stems from a fascination she got already in her childhood.
“When I was a kid, I loved reading fantasy literature. In a way, ancient mythologies have a lot in common with the fantasy genre, so already when I was a young teenager I loved reading about Greek and Egyptian mythology,” she tells us.
For Gudme, the step from reading about Isis and Osiris for fun to studying the history of religions of the Ancient near East seemed quite logical at the time.
“I did not have a career plan at all. I was just really curious and perhaps slightly geeky. Looking back, I am so glad that I chose this path although I did not really know what I was doing at the time.”
Research and teaching at TF resonates
Gudme says that there are several reasons for why she chose to apply for a position at the Faculty of Theology in Oslo.
“I have collaborated with Norwegian colleagues for years, and I have always had such a good impression of TF, both of the collegial environment and of the scholarly standard. One of my big heroes and sources of inspiration in HB/OT scholarship is Sigmund Mowinckel, and he of course was from Oslo,” Gudme explains.
She continues: “I just think that the kind of HB/OT research and teaching that is traditionally done at TF resonates really well with me, and it is exactly that tradition of enquiry that I want to continue and develop. My first impression is that I was right to come here.”
But also the general work environment pulls in the right direction for Gudme.
“So far, all my expectations have been met, and in addition I have discovered that TF is really special because it is 'small' in a good way. We have a warm and open environment here and people look out for one another. It is a cliché to call it a family, but it does remind me a bit of a big happy family sometimes,” she says.
Upcoming research projects
Gudme is currently working on a book on hospitality in the HB/OT, and thinks this will keep her quite busy in the near future. At the same time plans are being made for projects further ahead as well.
“In the more distant future, I would very much like to develop my interest in gender dynamics in the Hebrew Bible and especially the way ideals of divine and human masculinity relate to one another both in the HB/OT and in other Ancient near Eastern texts.”