My research interests orbit areas of study traditionally divided into three disciplines: New Testament/Christian Origins, Jewish Studies, and Hebrew Bible. My focus is on the Jesus movement, the texts it used and produced, and its relationship to other contemporary Jewish groups, and I use a variety of methods and tools to find answers to my socio-historical and theological questions.
Locating my research within these areas, the time periods covered in my published work extend more or less from the Persian period (from the reign of Cyrus 539 bce) up to and including early Rabbinic and Patristic literature. Within these time periods, and using a variety of source materials (archaeological remains, inscriptions, papyri, literary texts), and applying a range of methods my work centres on issues related to Jewish and Christian history, identity formation, and early intra- and inter-religious encounters.
Topics of interest include Matthew’s Gospel; Paul; the historical Jesus; ancient synagogues; Jewish–Christian relations; Jewish, Christian, and Graeco-Roman ‘mission’. I also have an interest in translation, terminology, epistemology and methodology.
I teach/have taught undergraduate courses on the following topics: Introduction to the New Testament; The Quest for the Historical Jesus; Earliest Portraits of Jesus (the synoptic gospels); Paul and Christian Origins; Inter-Religious Encounters in Antiquity: Jew, Christians, and Pagans; The Ancient Synagogue and the Origins of Judaism and Christianity; The Theology and Social Location of Matthew’s Gospel.
Themes for graduate courses I have taught include: Divine Judgment in the New Testament Gospels; John Among Jews and Gentiles; The Gospel of Matthew and the Matthean Communities; Textualising Jesus: The When, Where, How, and Why of the Gospel of Mark; The Historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God; Jewish-Christian Relations in Antiquity; The Ancient Synagogue: Birth Place of Two World Religions; Issues in the Study of Religions (a theory and methods course).
At the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University, Sweden, where I began my undergraduate education in 1989, I earned a B.A. (Jewish Studies, 1995), an M.Div. (1995), an M.A. (Religious Studies, 1996), a Licentiate (New Testament Exegesis, 1997; thesis: The Judgment According to Matthew), and a Ph.D. (New Testament Exegesis, 2001; thesis: The Origins of the Synagogue: A Socio-Historical Study). I was appointed docent (approx. Dr. Habil.) in 2002.
After completion of my doctoral dissertation, I was employed as Researcher at Lund University 2002–2003. Between 2003 and 2015 I was Professor of Early Christianity and Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Since July 1 2015, I am Professor of New Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo.
Honours and Awards
- The Esaias Tegnér Award, for excellence in exegetical research, Lund University, Sweden, 2002.
- The Lars Johan Wallmark Award for scholarly excellence, The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University, Sweden, 2002.
- The Biörnstjärnska Award for The Origins of the Synagogue, The Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, received from the King of Sweden at a ceremony in the Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden, 2003.
- The Westrupska Award, for The Origins of the Synagogue, The Royal Academy of Humanities, Lund, Sweden, 2004.
The Frank W. Beare Award, for an “outstanding book in the areas of Christian Origins, Post-Biblical Judaism and/or Graeco-Roman Religions” 2017: Divine Wrath and Salvation in Matthew: The Narrative World of the First Gospel (Fortress, 2016).
Other scholarly honours:
- Selected as Author in Focus, November 2011, by Brill Academic Publishers (Leiden, The Netherlands).
- Nominated for the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, McMaster University, 2006.
- Nominated for the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision, McMaster University, 2013.
Membership in Learned Societies
- Uppsala exegetiska sällskap/Svenska exegetiska sällskapet 1990-
- Society of Biblical Literature 2001-
- Canadian Society for Biblical Studies (elected) 2004-
- Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (elected) 2006-
Conference and Cooperation
Annual Conferences, ongoing:
- Co-Chair (with Profs. Hermut Löhr, Germany, and Markus Öhler, Austria), Social History and the New Testament Seminar, SNTS. 2010– .
- Co-Chair (with Prof. Daniel M. Gurtner, USA), Matthew Section, Society of Biblical Literature. 2012– .
- Member of Steering Committee, Paul Within Judaism Section, Society of Biblical Literature. 2010– .
Previous conferences organised include:
- Theology and Liberation in a Global World. Ten years after Per Frostin. An International Conference exploring recent developments in Contextual Theology with special emphasis on Sweden, Norway, and Tanzania. Lund University 2002. Co-organised with the Institute for Contextual Theology.
- Mark and Matthew – Texts and Contexts I: Understanding the Earliest Gospels in Their First-Century Settings. An international conference for the study of gospel literature in comparative perspective. Aarhus University, Denmark, 2008. Co-organised with Prof. Eve-Marie Becker, Aarhus University.
- Mark and Matthew – Texts and Contexts II: Reception History, Cultural Hermeneutics, and Theology. An international conference for the study of gospel literature in comparative perspective. McMaster University, Canada, 2009. Co-organised with Prof. Eve-Marie Becker, Aarhus University.