As a scholar of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament I received a classical, historical-critical education, including language studies in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Akkadian, and Ugaritic. From the 1990's onwards I studied literary and hermeneutical approaches to biblical literature, and later also comparative cultural studies and memory studies. As the first leader of the UiO network Religion in Pluralistic Societies (2008–2010), I became engaged in cross-disciplinary scholarship, an interest that has followed me later. Lately I have focused on the use of social sciences in the study of texts and cultures from the deep past, including the study of material religion. These cross-disciplinary interestes continue as I am heading the national PhD school for candidates in religion, theology, and law studies: Authoritative Texts and Their Reception (2020 – 2023). During the period 2016 – 2020 I had a position as visiting professor at the Nordic Centre for the Study of Family Law, Practices and Policies, Institute of Law, Aalborg University, Denmark. In this context I still keep participating as a text scholar and as a cultural historiann with social scientific perspectives.
For the time being these are my primary thematic focal points:
- Canonicity and canonization in comparative and social scientific perspectives.
- The importance of the local level (villages, small towns, rural communities) in ancient Levantine socieites and cultures – and the role that this insight could have in the interpretation of ancient texts that usually emerge from more elite circles.
- Ancient Hebrew and West-Asian wisdom literature, with a focus on the biblical Book of Job.
- Aestheetic perspectives on religion, with a particular interest for so-called aniconism and logocentrism in monotheistic religions.
- The concept of family – in the tensions between state family legislation and ideology, cultural and historical influences, and the actual performance of family life in present society.
- Scientific Director for the national research school Authoritative Texts and Their Reception (from 2020).
- Part of the leader group for The Nordic Centre for the study of Family Law, Practices and Policies, Aalborg University, Denmark (from 2016).
- Coordinator for the international and cross-disciplinary reserach group Local Dynamics of Globalization in the Pre-Modern Levant, Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo 2014–15.
- Scientific leader for the trans-facultary and cross-disciplinary research initiative PluRel 2009-2010.
- Co-ordinator for the research network OTSEM 2004 – 2010 (started with financial support from NordForsk).