Compilation, Canonization and Authority

Why did religious leaders, lawmakers, educators, and historians use compilation to produce and disseminate authoritative texts? What is the relation between compiling and synthesizing earlier sources? 


Some of the most influential texts in human history have been identified as compilations, either by their producers or by subsequent scholars. Ancient religious canons are typically compilations, such as the Hebrew or the Christian Bibles, or the Buddhist canons.

Decretium Gratiani
Decretium Gratiani

Many great law-books are compilations. These include the Corpus iuris civilis of Roman law and the Decretum Gratiani of Canon law, which shaped legal cultures across the world.

Many historical works were compilations, such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses or the old Norse

sagas. And, of course, curricula for learning often use compiled texts. Indeed, compilation hasbeen a predominant method for producing all kinds of influential texts throughout history. But what does ‘compilation’ mean? A conventional definition would encompass both: (a) the method of selecting text-fragments then editing and recomposing them in new sources, and (b) the finished product so created. However, this definition lacks appreciation of the wider context of the function of compilation, relevant compilation processes, or the impact on the source texts or their perceived authority.

Often, it seems, compilations have gained canonical impact while the original texts were lost, forgotten, or remembered as having been identical to the compiled texts.

In other words, compilation can be instrumental to the production of textual authority and resilience.

To what extent were compilations products of creativity or established even new knowledge or understanding? What was the role of compilations in the process of reception, transmission and translation of knowledge from one cultural context to another?

This seminar is organized in cooperation with the Research Group for Legal Culture, Legal History and Comparative Law, University of Bergen and also with the museum Baroniet Rosendal.

Lecturers include Adelyn Wilson and Sören Koch, Caspar Hirschi, Mathias Schmoeckel, Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, Eirik Hovden, Kelsie Rodenbiker and Terje Stordalen.

How to participate

A prerequisite for participation in all ATTR seminars is membership. We welcome membership applications from PhD candidates employed at one of the ATTR member institutions (UiO, UiB, UiT, NTNU, MF). PhD students at other institutions internationally are welcome to participate in individual ATTR seminars. 

How to apply and application requirements


  • Program TBA
  • Research seminars
  • PhD seminars
  • Field trip: Baroniet Rosendal
  • Required reading TBA

Practical information

A seminar for PhD students within the fields of Humanities, Theology and Law. The Seminar will take place in Bergen (including a field trip to Baroniet Rosendal). Thematically, it connects to the ATTR-seminar on Collections, Archives, and Libraries in June 2021.

  • The seminar equals 5 ECTS
  • The seminar is free of charge and most of your expenses (flight tickets, hotel, most meals) will be covered
  • Registration is binding, provided that you are admitted. 
  • Before the application deadline, make sure that you have uploaded all necessary attachments:

Research seminars

Adelyn Wilson and Sören Koch
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Compiling the Law – The (re-)creation of legal Authority in the Early Modern Period. (preliminary title)

Adelyn Wilson (Dr.) is the University of Aberdeen's Dean for International Stakeholder Engagement. Dr Wilson is also a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, and the co-Director of the Centre for Scots Law. Her research interests include seventeenth-century Scottish legal history, historical Scottish legal literature as well as public law issues relevant to both Brexit and the law of abortion in the UK.


Image may contain: Clothing, Eyewear, Glasses, Ear, Vision care.

Sören Koch (Prof., Dr. jur) works at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen. His research includes comparative law and legal cultural studies among others. Dr. Koch also teaches various courses at international universities and has published multiple articles, monographies and reviews the last years.




Terje Stordalen
Image may contain: Glasses, Forehead, Elder.

Compilation, Complexification, Canonization

As a scholar of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Stordalen (Prof.) received a classical, historical-critical education, including language studies in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Akkadian, and Ugaritic. As the first leader of the network Religion in Pluralistic Societies (2008–2010), he became engaged in cross-disciplinary scholarship, an interest that has followed him later.

From 2016 Stordal has 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


Caspar Hirschi

Constitutions - a Genre of Compilation?Image may contain: Clothing, Ear, Lip, Cheek, Hairstyle.

Caspar Hirschi's (Prof. Dr.) research focuses on the history and theory of nationalism , the early modern scholarly culture, the organization of scientific institutions, and the roles of the critic, experts and intellectuals since the enlightenment.





Mathias Schmoeckl

The History of Expropriation and Its Relation to 1 Samuel 8

(Geschichte der Enteignung an Hand von 1 Sam. 8)

Mathias Schmoeckel (Prof. Dr.) is Managing Director of the Rhenish Institute for Notary Law, Professor of German and Rhenish Legal History. His research focuses on the history of the law of evidence (6th-18th centuries), law and religion (Canon Law, Reformation) among others.



Eirik Hovden

Title of lecture TBA

Eirik Hovden (Post Doc.) is a researcher at the Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen. From august 2020 has been the project leader of the CanCode-project. The project focuses on processes of canonization and codification of Islamic law.




Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde

Title of lecture TBA

Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde (Prof.) got his Law degree in 1999 and PhD in law in 2007. The same year he was appointed Professor in legal history at the Faculty of Law in Bergen. In 2019 he became Professor in legal history at the Department of Public and International Law in Oslo. Since 2002 Sunde has also worked as researcher at the Barony Rosendal, and from 2019 at the Norwegian National Library.



Kelsie Rodenbiker

Title of lecture TBA

Kelsie Rodenbiker (Post. Doc) is a former ATTR member, and currently holds a postdoc position at Glasgow University.

Her research is on the Catholic Epistles (James, 1-2 Peter, 1–3 John, and Jude) as a (para)canonical compilation and how their collective form particularly benefitted the more disputed letters among them (James, 2 Peter, 2–3 John, Jude), leading to the reception of a sevenfold apostolic corpus in the New Testament collection. 


PhD Seminars

Seminar guide (.pdf) 

Central to all ATTR seminars and summer schools are the PhD fellows’ own presentations of papers based on their dissertation work, with prepared responses by other PhD fellows. 

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of ATTR, the focus of the discussions will be primarily on methodological matters and interdisciplinary insights.

The PhD seminars are important means to the ATTR learning goals:

  • Writing and presentation skills: The seminars aim not only at providing a setting for constructive discussions relating to thesis work, but also at preparing the candidates for life after their dissertations. ATTR thus aims to hone students’ presentation and writing skills, skills that may be useful for development of research projects for which funding can be sought from, e.g., ERC and RCN.
  • Methodology: The objective of ATTR is to create a venue where interpretive methodologies can be critically discussed, evaluated, and developed, so as to broaden the candidates’ perspectives and heighten the quality of their analyses.
  • Networking: In all its activities, the creation of an interdisciplinary network of young scholars in order to ensure the highest possible academic quality of PhD education is a central goal of ATTR.


Please contact the ATTR Administrative coordinator / Christin-Helen Vasvik.

Published Dec. 10, 2020 2:51 PM - Last modified Mar. 30, 2021 11:14 AM