Karin Berber Neutel

Academic Interests

As a researcher, I am particularly interested in religious views of how people should behave, how they should interact with others and what they should do with their bodies. This interest extends to both the contemporary and the ancient world, and to much in between.

The subject of my current research, the differing views on male circumcision, allows me to address many of the issues that fascinate me. It is a subject where religion, ethics, masculinity, tradition, sexuality, history, health and beauty all come into play. Through analyzing attitudes towards circumcision, several aspects of contemporary and ancient culture, as well as the interaction between the past and the present, can be better understood.

At the moment, I am looking at a number of issues and questions:

  • The background of the concept of religion as it is used in contemporary circumcision debates
  • References to Paul in US medical literature on male circumcision, from the 19th century onwards.
  • What were Luther’s ideas about circumcision and do they help explain the popular understanding of Paul as having abolished circumcision? (preliminary answer: no)
  • Why do the metaphorical references to foreskin that occur in the Hebrew Bible (such as foreskinned ears and heart) disappear in the Greek of the Septuagint?

For more information see my academia page

Projects and Affiliations

  • Post doc at the UiO: The Letter, the Spirit and the Foreskin: Perceptions of Paul in the Contemporary Debate on Male Circumcision
    • ​In this three-year project (2016-2019), I analyse recent circumcision debates in both Europe and the US. I examine the ways in which both opponents and advocates of circumcision refer to the figure and writings of the New Testament author Paul as part of their argumentation.
  • Junior fellow at the Max Weber Centre, University of Erfurt: Male Circumcision: Ancient Controversies and Contemporary Debates
  • Fellow at the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  • Co-chair of the research group: Bodies of Communication: Physical Practices and Religious Texts
    • ​2016-2018 research group of the European Association of Biblical Studies (see: https://eabs.net/site/bodies-of-communication/)
  • Editorial secretary for the journal Schrift
  • Member of EABS, EAJS, SBL, SNTC


  • 2015-2016 Post Doc Researcher at the VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands

    • Co-researcher in the project New Testament Conjectural Emendation: A Comprehensive Enquiry, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • 2007-2015 Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Groningen, Netherlands          
    • Lecturer in BA and MA courses on the New Testament and Early Christianity
    • PhD project A Cosmopolitan Ideal: Paul’s Declaration ‘neither Jew nor Greek, neither Slave nor Free, nor Male and Female’ in the Context of First Century Thought (doctorate July 2013)
  • 2011-2012 Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

    • BA course in Religious Studies


  • A Cosmopolitan Ideal: Paul’s Declaration ‘neither Jew nor Greek, neither Slave nor Free, nor Male and Female’ in the Context of First-Century Thought (Library of New Testament Studies 513; London: T&T Clark 2015) 

  • ‘De betekenis van het verleden in het hedendaagse debat over jongensbesnijdenis: ‘Social imaginaries’ en het geval van Paulus’, [The Meaning of the Past in the Contemporary Debate on Male Circumcision: ‘Social Imaginaries’ and the Case of Paul] Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschift 68/4, 2014, 308–321 

  • ‘The First Cut is the Deepest: Masculinity and Circumcision in the First Century’ (co-authored with Matthew R. Anderson), in: Peter-Ben Smit and Ovidiu Creanga (eds.), Biblical Masculinities (Sheffield: Phoenix Press 2014), 228-244 

  • ‘Jongensbesnijdenis tussen religie, recht en geschiedenis’ [Circumcision of Boys between Religion, Law and History] (co-authored with Matthea Westerduin and Yolande Jansen), Filosofie & Praktijk 35/3 (2014), 35-55 

  • ‘Slaves Included? Sexual Regulations and Slave Participation in Two Ancient Religious Groups’, in: Stephen Hodkinson and Dick Geary (eds.), Slaves, Cults and Religions (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2012), 133-148 

  • ‘‘Neither Jew nor Greek’: Abraham as a Universal Ancestor’, in: Martin Goodman, George H. van Kooten and Jacques T.A.G.M. van Ruiten (eds.), Abraham, the Nations and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (Leiden: Brill 2010), 291-306 

  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2019). Women's silence and jewish influence: The problematic origins of the conjectural emendation on 1 Cor 14.33b-35. New Testament Studies.  ISSN 0028-6885.  65(4), s 477- 495 . doi: 10.1017/S0028688519000225
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Neither Jew nor Greek, Slave nor Free, Male and Female. Biblical Archeology Review.  ISSN 0098-9444.  44(01), s 60- 68
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). review Karen Armstrong, St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle. NTT Journal for Theology and The Study of Religion.  ISSN 2542-6583.  71(4), s 372- 373
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2016). Circumcision Gone Wrong: Paul's Message as a Case of Ritual Disruption. Neotestamentica.  ISSN 0254-8356.  50(2), s 373- 396

View all works in Cristin

  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Comments by Karin B. Neutel. Religion and Society (RS).  ISSN 1437-5370.  9(01), s 185- 186
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Das Fleisch oder das Herz? Religion, Glaube und die Legitimität männlicher Beschneidung. Jalta: Positionen zur jüdischen Gegenwart.  ISSN 2510-3725.  1(03), s 158- 161
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Een antiek ideaal: Geen Jood of Griek, slaaf of vrij, man en vrouw. Schrift: tijdschrift over de Bijbel.  (292), s 43- 49
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Faith in the Foreskin: Rethinking the Male Anatomy of Paul’s Circumcision Language.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Making Sense of the Past: Paul in the Recent German Debate on Male Circumcision.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Male Circumcision at the Beginning and End of Christianity.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Not in the body. The Immanent Frame [blog].
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Response: Om skjæring – hva handler omskjæringsdebatten «egentlig» om?.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Ritual Disruption: Circumcision as a Rite of Exclusion and Inclusion at the Beginning and End of Christianity.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2018). Taking the Pain Away: Paul, Circumcision and the Success of the Gentile Mission.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). Constructions of the Past in Recent Debates on Male Circumcision: How Paul Makes Circumcision History.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). Good News for the Foreskin: The Male Anatomy of Paul's Circumcision Language.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). Gustav Vigeland's Post-Reformation Bodies. Reformasjonsbloggen - Det teologiske fakultet (UiO).
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). Male Circumcision as an Obstacle to Religious Conversion? The Problematic Origins of the Concept of Religion in Legal Criticism of Circumcision.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). The Letter, the Spirit and the Foreskin: Perceptions of Paul in the Contemporary Debate on Male Circumcision.
  • Neutel, Karin Berber (2017). Zij moeten het hen in alles naar de zin maken: De boodschap van de Pastorale brieven over slavernij. Schrift: tijdschrift over de Bijbel.  49(288), s 53- 59
  • Neutel, Karin Berber & Boyarin, Daniel (2017). Male circumcision and the concept of religion.

View all works in Cristin

Published June 3, 2016 10:55 AM - Last modified June 3, 2016 2:25 PM